The schedule has dropped, and the stage is set.
The Bengals will take the field for the first time in the regular season in Cleveland against the Browns on September 10. There’s not a lot going on. We’ve reacted to the draft, free agency, and how the roster is built for the upcoming season.
While there’s not a lot going on in the NFL right now, let’s take a look at the upcoming schedule and make some predictions on the 2023 Bengals season.
Bengals @ Browns, Sept. 10 - 1:00 PM
The Browns are the biggest question mark in the AFC North. We know what we’re going to get with the Ravens and Steelers, but the Browns are different. They have quarterback Deshaun Watson, who only played half the season last year, and underwhelmed, after not playing for a year and a half. Will he be his old self or not? Who knows. Either way, though, the Bengals are the better team, and they’ll come out on top after Joe Burrow has his first full offseason of his young career.
Ravens @ Bengals, Sept. 17 - 1:00 PM
The Ravens and Bengals are the two best teams in the division. The Bengals defeated the Ravens in the playoffs by a score of 24-17 with a last-minute defensive touchdown from Sam Hubbard. Ravens fans have been screaming ever since the game was over that, had Lamar Jackson played in that game instead of Tyler Huntley, Baltimore would have won. Jackson may have an MVP season on his resume, but the Bengals are the better team, and Joe Burrow is the better quarterback.
Rams @ Bengals, Sept. 25 - 8:15 PM (MNF)
The Rams sold the future of their franchise to beat the Bengals in the Super Bowl two years ago. The team they were then is nothing like the team they are now. The Bengals get their revenge for the Super Bowl.
Bengals @ Titans, Oct. 1 - 1:00 PM
The Titans are another team that has taken a step back over the last couple of seasons. The Bengals beat the Titans in the playoffs on their way to the Super Bowl after the 2021 regular season came to a close, but then Tennessee finished with a 7-10 record the year after, and they very much look like they have the makings of a .500 team again in 2023. We also don’t know who will be playing quarterback for the Titans.
Bengals @ Cardinals, Oct. 8 - 4:05 PM
Quarterback Kyler Murray is recovering from a torn ACL and won’t be playing in this game. The Cardinals are currently ranked as either the worst or second-worst team heading into the 2023 season, depending on who you ask. Of course, anything could happen, but the Bengals should take care of business.
Seahawks @ Bengals, Oct. 15 - 1:00 PM
The Seahawks aren’t a great team, but they aren’t a bad team, either. Geno Smith really came into his own last season and will start at quarterback again this season, and they have a solid group of receivers. Still, the Bengals are again the better team, and they’ll be back at home.
Bengals @ 49ers, Oct. 29 - 4:25 PM
Here’s where the Bengals' first loss will come. Who will play quarterback for the 49ers? Will it be Trey Lance or Brock Purdy? We don’t really know yet, but the Niners are a very good football team. They have a top-tier defense, a great duel-threat running back and great receivers, including Deebo Samuel, who does pretty much everything. If the Bengals were hosting, I’d say they win a close game, but they’re on the West Coast, so I’ll give this one to the 49ers.
Bills @ Bengals, Nov. 5 - 8:20 PM (SNF)
The Bills and Bengals are among the best teams in the NFL. Josh Allen and Burrow are both on the shortlist for MVP. This is going to be a great game. The Bengals dismantled the Bills in Buffalo during the playoffs by a score of 27-10, but that doesn’t mean the same thing will happen. I expect the Bills to be looking for some revenge, but they’ll be in Cincinnati, and while the Bengals took a step forward this offseason, I think the Bills have taken steps back.
Texans @ Bengals, Nov. 12 - 1:00 PM
The Texans aren’t going to be good in 2023. There isn’t a lot else to say, and even though anything can happen on any given Sunday, the Bengals take this one.
Bengals @ Ravens, Nov. 16 - 8:15 PM (TNF)
The Bengals could certainly sweep every team in the AFC North as they did back in 2009, but I don’t think they do. I think they split with the Ravens, and M&T Bank Stadium will be rocking for a primetime game. I think the Ravens win this game.
Steelers @ Bengals, Nov. 26 - 1:00 PM
This will be the first time the Bengals face the Steelers. They’re coming off their second loss of the season, and it was against a division rival. While their back isn’t against the wall at all, they may feel like it is. I expect Kenny Pickett to take a step forward in his second year in the league, and the Steelers defense is going to be very good again. However, they won’t be good enough to take down Burrow and company.
Bengals @ Jaguars, Dec. 4 - 8:15 PM (MNF)
No. 1 pick Joe Burrow versus No. 1 pick Trevor Lawrence. This will be a fun game. Lawrence really came on strong in 2022, and the Jaguars are poised to have a good season. I think the Jaguars will win the weak AFC South, but they’re not going to be good enough to beat the Bengals, even at home and on Monday Night Football. I could see these two teams meeting again in the playoffs.
Colts @ Bengals, Dec. 10 - 1:00 PM
The Colts are a mess. Gardner Minshew or rookie Anthony Richardson will be taking snaps for Indy in 2023. One is aggressively mediocre, and the other is a rookie. The Bengals take this one without much of an issue here.
Vikings @ Bengals, TBD
The Vikings could be good. They have a solid offense. Kirk Cousins can manage the offense, and Justin Jefferson is a top wide receiver in the league. They have rookie wide receiver Jordan Addison and tight end T.J. Hockenson as well. They also have running back Dalvin Cook, one of the last true three-down backs, but he likely won’t be on the roster when the season starts. The defense took a hit this offseason too. The Bengals win this one with the No. 1 seed on their mind.
Bengals @ Steelers, Dec. 23, 4:30 PM ET
I think the Steelers have a ceiling of 10 wins and a floor of seven. Even if they have a 10-win season, I don’t expect them to be able to compete with the Bengals. I think the Bengals sweep the Steelers in 2023 and cement themselves as the ruler of the AFC North.
Bengals at Chiefs, Dec. 31, 4:25 PM
I think this is the Bengals’ third and final loss of the season. As long as both teams are relatively healthy, this will be another close game, but the victor will be the home team. I expect the Chiefs to win by less than a touchdown. However, I do think the Bengals could still be the No. 1 seed despite losing this game.
Browns @ Bengals, TBD
This is a tricky one. If the Bengals have locked up the AFC North and the No. 1 seed at this point, and I think they could, they’ll sit players and likely lose this game. If the Bengals need to win this game to secure the top seed in the AFC, I think they win. Since they’re coming off a loss to the Chiefs, I’m going to say they have to win this game to get the No. 1 seed.
What do you think? What do you think the Bengals’ record will be when the last whistle sounds in Week 18? Here’s how I think the playoffs will be seeded:
I could also see the Chargers, Steelers, Browns, and even the Broncos being able to lock a wildcard spot this year, though. Who do you think will represent the AFC in the playoffs?