It hasn’t been the most ideal of starts for the 2023 Cincinnati Bengals, but they’ve clawed themselves to a 3-3 standing at the bye.
On one hand, there have been major disappointments with an 0-2 division record thus far, but optimism lingers with three wins in the last four contests and the offense showing more signs of life.
However, after a much-needed week of rest, the Bengals face a treacherous slate of games on their path to the postseason. For a refresher, here are the opponents, dates, and times for the rest of the games, along with their current record:
- Sunday, October 29th, 4:25 p.m. ET: at San Francisco 49ers (5-2)
- Sunday, November 5th, 8:20 p.m. ET: versus Buffalo Bills (4-3), Sunday Night Football
- Sunday, November 12th, 1:00 p.m. ET: versus Houston Texans (3-3)
- Thursday, November 16th, 8:15 p.m. ET: at Baltimore Ravens (5-2), Thursday Night Football
- Sunday, November 26th, 1:00 p.m. ET: versus Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
- Monday, December 4th, 5:15 p.m. ET: at Jacksonville Jaguars (5-2), Monday Night Football
- Sunday, December 10th, 1:00 p.m. ET: versus Indianapolis Colts (3-4)
- Sunday, December 17th, TBD: versus Minnesota Vikings (3-4)
- Saturday, December 23rd, 4:30 p.m. ET: at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
- Sunday, December 31st, 4:25 p.m. ET: at Kansas City Chiefs (6-1)
- Sunday, January 7th, TBD: versus Cleveland Browns (4-3)
When we looked at the schedule in its entirety upon its release back in May, the consensus opinion was that the Bengals were going to be well into double digits for a win total. Some were saying that three losses were going to be the maximum Cincinnati would experience this year.
There are some things to note here. First is that there are eight of 11 games against teams with winning records to go. But, Cincinnati only travels five times the rest of the way, while staying at Paycor for six others. And, while Cincinnati is off to a horrible start in terms of division play, they have a chance to right that ship with four back-end AFC North games.
Week 8 at 49ers:
San Francisco is one of the best teams in the league right now, but they are coming off of a tough loss to the Browns in a game filled with errors, followed by another ugly one against Minnesota on Monday night. And, San Francisco will be without the services of one of their best weapons when they host Cincinnati.
49ers’ WR Deebo Samuel will miss games at Minnesota, then against the Bengals. The 49ers have a bye in Week 9 before Samuel is expected to have a chance to return in Week 10 game at Jacksonville. https://t.co/CJLBBf2wce— Adam Schefter (@AdamSchefter) October 21, 2023
The last time these two faced off, it brought us a classic at Paycor Stadium, even though it ended in an overtime loss for Cincinnati. Right now, this feels like another iconic clash, but one that leads to a Bengals loss.
49ers 24, Bengals 20 (CIN 3-4)
Week 9 versus Bills (Sunday Night Football):
Like Cincinnati, Buffalo had high expectations this year and has seen ups and downs to this point. A loss this last Sunday to the struggling Patriots was a tough one to take, and while they are a well-rounded team, they’ve shown a propensity to not match up well against the Bengals.
Before the frightening and sad injury to Damar Hamlin on Monday night last year, Cincinnati showed they were ready to run away with that game. They doubled down and proved it in the postseason with a domination of the Bills in snowy Buffalo. I think this might be a positive turning point for Cincinnati’s season trajectory this year.
Bills 21, Bengals 30 (CIN 4-4)
Week 10 versus Texans:
Major kudos to DeMeco Ryans and C.J. Stroud, who have the Texans far ahead of where people pegged them this year. Some of that is due to a mediocre AFC South division, but they’re playing a better brand of football than expected and will not be the walkover win it appeared to be back in May.
Throw in a short week with a big game against the Ravens looming, it has the makings of an upset. Still, this appears to be a game the Bengals should handle at home, but probably not as lopsided as some would care for.
Texans 24, Bengals 31 (CIN 5-4)
Week 11 at Ravens (Thursday Night Football):
This has the makings of a loss, especially if Lamar Jackson remains healthy. It’s on the road, and Jackson has only lost once to the Bengals. And, as mentioned above, this one comes on a short week.
Still, I had the Bengals splitting the division this year, and I’m sticking to that. So, I’ll put this as a win for now, even if it doesn’t look overly-easy at the moment.
Bengals 22, Ravens 21 (CIN 6-4)
Week 12 versus Steelers:
The Steelers are an absolute enigma. They’re 4-2, but favorable refereeing and a pretty soft beginning of their schedule have helped them getting off to a better start than many imagined. Even so, they have quality wins against the Browns and Ravens so far, and we know even the seemingly-weaker-looking Pittsburgh rosters keep this team in the hunt at the end.
If you look back to last year, these were two of the more frustrating and close-fought games on the Bengals’ schedule. I think the same happens again, and since this one is on the home turf, I’ll give it to Cincinnati.
Steelers 17, Bengals 21 (CIN 7-4)
Week 13 at Jaguars (Monday Night Football):
This is shaping up to be a sneaky great matchup. Images of Joe Burrow going head-to-head with Trevor Lawrence, throwing it back to the 2019 National Championship Game abound when thinking of this primetime matchup. The Jaguars have built a strong team with Doug Pederson at the helm, and this one will bring problems for Cincinnati.
The Bengals’ defense will have to bring its “A Game,” but the Jaguars have a lot of weapons. This might be where Cincinnati’s solid, early post-bye win streak comes to an end.
Jaguars 30, Bengals 24 (CIN 7-5)
Week 14 versus Colts:
Cincinnati heads back home on a short week to face-off with the Colts in the “I-74 Bowl”. Indianapolis may not have the services of Anthony Richardson for the rest of the year, but they’re still giving other teams fits, as evidenced by their near-win against the Browns this Sunday.
Still, this should be a “get-back-on-track game” for the Bengals and get them back to their winning ways.
Colts 16, Bengals 27 (CIN 8-5)
Week 15 versus Vikings:
At the beginning of the year, this looked like a marquee matchup. While the Bengals have stumbled, the Vikings have been an even larger disappointment with just three wins so far. Yet, they rose to the challenge on Monday to defeat the 49ers in a gritty victory.
Minnesota was an outstanding 13-4 last year, but they are a far cry from that team right now, but might we have judged them too early? Regardless, Cincinnati should handle this one, as they surge to the postseason.
Vikings 17, Bengals 26 (CIN 9-5)
Week 16 at Steelers:
Again, if I’m sticking with the divisional game splits, Pittsburgh takes this one at home. We also know the Steelers play their best ball in December, so this, unfortunately, chalks up to a loss.
Bengals 16, Steelers 23 (CIN 9-6)
Week 17 at Chiefs:
This is the hardest one for me to predict on this slate of games. Part of me believes that the Bengals are going to play totally inspired football, as they remember how last year’s AFC Championship Game played out and win another iconic game against their inter-divisional rivals.
The other part of me is looking at how the Bengals have played thus far and has to admit that it isn’t well enough to beat the Chiefs at home, even if Kansas City looks a little more vulnerable than in the past couple of years. Will the “Swifties” prevail?
Bengals 30, Chiefs 31 (CIN 9-7)
Week 18 versus Browns:
Remember in Marvin Lewis’ first season when the Bengals had a shot at a playoff berth if they just beat a mediocre Browns team? That one didn’t work out well for Cincinnati, but the same do-or-die scenario could exist here with the finale against Cleveland.
With Burrow and the Bengals’ recent struggles against the Browns, this doesn’t portend well for Cincinnati. But, I think they gut one out and sneak into the postseason as a Wild Card team.
Browns 19, Bengals 24 (CIN 10-7; Wild Card berth)
What do you think the rest of the seasons hold for the Cincinnati Bengals?