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Way-too-early schedule predictions: Bengals at Buccaneers

Tom Brady vs. Joe Burrow? Yes, please!

Cincinnati Bengals v Tampa Bay Buccaneers Photo by Douglas P. DeFelice/Getty Images

When Tom Brady retired this offseason, it was disappointing to know we’d never see him get a regular-season matchup with Joe Burrow.

However, Brady later unretired, and we’re now set to see Burrow get his shot at the GOAT when the two teams face off in a Week 15 duel at Tampa Bay.

In what will be one of, if not the Cincinnati Bengals’ most challenging test of 2022, this is a game everyone is circling on their calendars. It’s already set to be the late CBS national game that week and likely have the network’s top broadcasting team of Tony Romo and Jim Nantz.

The Buccaneers are coming off a 2021 season in which they narrowly lost to the eventual Super Bowl champion Rams. Otherwise, it could have been Tampa who’s entering the upcoming season having won two-straight Super Bowls after claiming Super Bowl 55.

Defensively, Tampa Bay finished 13th in total defense while allowing the fifth-fewest points per game. They tend to give up a lot of yards and stiffen up in the red zone, though they struggled against some of the better offenses they faced like the Rams (34 and 30 points allowed in their two matchups), the Cowboys (29 points allowed), the Bills (27 points allowed), and Colts (31 points allowed).

I think it’s safe to say the Bengals offense should be as good, if not better than those aforementioned teams.

That may have not been the case last season due to Cincinnati’s offensive line, which would struggle mightily against a Bucs defensive line that now has Shaquil Barrett, Vita Vea and Akiem Hicks.

Thankfully, the additions of Ted Karras, Alex Cappa and La’el Collins should help the Bengals keep that Bucs d-line in check.

If that happens, then the Bengals receiving trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins should feast on the secondary.

Offensively, Tampa finished second in total offense and points per game. They also scored 27+ points in all but one home game last season (including playoffs). That included four games of 38+ points.

So yeah, the Bucs are gonna score points in this game. And while I see the Bengals keeping up much of the way, I’m not betting against Brady and this Bucs team at home.

ESPN FPI: Bengals have a 41.5% chance to win.

My prediction: Bucs 30, Bengals 27

My predicted record thus far: 11-3

How do you see this matchup playing out? Let us know in the poll and in the comments section!