Best and worst case for 2022

Welcome to FanSided’s 2022 NFL preview! It’s time to look into our crystal football and take a glimpse at the Cincinnati Bengals season prediction.

When the season kicked off last year, almost no one had the Cincinnati Bengals as one of the last two teams standing. A Super Bowl berth was a total surprise last year but has now become the expectation in Year 3 of the Joe Burrow Era.

Think about that, how quickly fortunes have changed.

Just three years ago the Bengals owned the No. 1 pick in the draft and now they’re being talked about among other gladiators of the AFC like the Chiefs and Titans — two teams they dispatched in the playoffs last year.

Now that the seal of hope has been broken, the question becomes whether the Bengals can confirm their arrival among the NFL’s elite or if they’ll succumb to the dreaded Super Bowl hangover.

Cincinnati Bengals 2021 season in review

  • 10-7 record
  • 1st place in AFC North
  • Lost Super Bowl LVI to the Rams

Last year, despite coming off a four-win season and losing their starting quarterback midway through the season, the Bengals shocked the world by not only winning their division but beating the Raiders, Titans, and Chiefs to reach the Super Bowl. They hadn’t won a playoff game in 30 years before their victory over the Raiders and hadn’t been to the Super Bowl since the ‘88 season.

Unfortunately, they were unable to get their first-ever Super Bowl win, falling 23-20 to the Los Angeles Rams at SoFi Stadium. The offensive line was a big factor in the loss, as Joe Burrow was sacked seven times but the quarterback has given the fans reason to believe that 2021 wasn’t a fluke.

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 NFL Draft class

  • Rd 1: Daxton Hill, DB/Michigan
  • Rd 2: Cam Taylor-Britt, CB/Nebraska
  • Rd 3: Zachary Carter, DE/Florida
  • Rd 4: Cordell Volson, OT/North Dakota State
  • Rd 5: Tycen Anderson, S/Toledo
  • Rd 7: Jeffrey Gunter, OLB/Coastal Carolina

The Bengals fixated on defense in the draft, spending five of their six picks on that side of the ball. They didn’t need to go hard on the offensive line, their biggest weakness in 2021, due to how active they were in free agency.

Hill was drafted to eventually replace Jessie Bates while Taylor-Britt might take Eli Apple’s job at some point this season. The rest of the guys will provide key depth. Volson could end up starting if Jackson Carman continues to struggle at left guard in preseason.

Previewing Cincinnati Bengals offense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions: C Ted Karras, OG Alex Cappa, OT La’el Collins, TE Hayden Hurst
  • Biggest X-Factor: Hayden Hurst, TE
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Jackson Carman, OL

Ja’Marr Chase won Offensive Rookie of the Year and while a sophomore slump could happen, don’t count on it. The Bengals also have Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd at receiver, who could each be top receivers on other teams.

The team went to work in upgrading their offensive line and the unit looks nearly entirely different than it did a year ago. Jackson Carman is the question mark on the line. The rest of the unit, once it gels, should be able to give Joe Burrow the protection he needs to make those dazzling throws.

Tight end C.J. Uzomah signed with the Jets so the team replaced him with Hayden Hurst, who had his best year with the Falcons in 2020. Hurst can be the guy who takes this offense over the top in 2022.

While the Bengals are in a tough division, their offense has now had a year to work together and should be even better in 2022. Don’t be surprised if they’re a top-5 unit this year.

Previewing Cincinnati Bengals defense for 2022 season

  • Key offseason additions: None
  • Biggest X-Factor: Jessie Bates
  • Squeakiest Wheel: Eli Apple

While the Bengals didn’t add any new free agents this offseason, they re-signed B.J. Hill, who was a star for them last year. They weren’t able to keep Larry Ogunjobi but the draft selection of Zachary Carter was made to replace him.

Bates was the story all summer, finally returning after signing his franchise tag on Aug. 22. The star safety had his worst pro season last year in the regular season but balled out in the playoffs so hopefully, Cincinnati gets the playoffs version of him.

Eli Apple deservedly got heat last season for talking trash and not backing it up in the Super Bowl. Still, the team re-signed him on a cheap deal, keeping the secondary together.

Cincinnati Bengals 2022 coaching staff overview

  • Head Coach: Zac Taylor
  • Off. Coordinator: Brian Callahan
  • Def. Coordinator: Lou Anarumo
  • 2023 Head Coach Candidate: Brian Callahan

Everyone is returning despite how well the team performed last year. Taylor isn’t the most beloved man in Cincinnati but he did win a lot of people over last year.

Callahan is probably the guy who will get interviewed by teams if the offense lives up to the hype. He did interview with some teams last offseason but no one realistically expected him to get a job elsewhere.

Cincinnati Bengals Awards Watch for 2022 season

Joe Burrow won Comeback Player of the Year and Ja’Marr Chase won Offensive Rookie of the Year during the ‘21 season. Can the team bring home more hardware in 2022?

Joe Burrow, MVP

Burrow should be a prime candidate to win MVP. He showed what he can do when he’s at his best, throwing for the most yards in a single season in Bengals history and leading the team to the Super Bowl. He did struggle with picks in the first half of the season but once he settled in, he looked like his 2019 LSU version.

Ja’Marr Chase, Offensive Player of the Year

This could be tricky since there are a lot of really talented wide receivers out there but Chase will be at the top of the pack when it comes to candidates for the award. He already won Rookie of the Year so why not take it the next step?

Biggest game on Cincinnati Bengals schedule

Week 17 against the Bills is going to be a great game, assuming all of the key players stay healthy. These are two of the best teams in the entire league and we’ll get to see them in the second-to-last game of the season at the newly-named Paycor Stadium.

Cincinnati Bengals season prediction: Best-case scenario

No one predicted the Bengals would make the Super Bowl last year but this year, it’s definitely a possibility that they not only get there, but win the whole thing. They came so close last year so why couldn’t they reach the big game and hoist the Lombardi Trophy this time around?

Burrow had a crappy offensive line in 2021 and the team still made it to the Super Bowl. This year, the Bengals’ offensive line is competent. That’s scary for the rest of the league.

Cincinnati Bengals season prediction: Worst-case scenario

The absolute worst thing that can happen to the Bengals is that injuries start to pile up and take their toll. Losing Burrow to injury or another unforeseen circumstance would be a season-ender for the squad but so would losing two of their top receivers since the depth behind them is rough.

Speaking of poor depth, if the offensive line has injuries, the Bengals don’t have good enough talent there to fill in if their starters get hurt. That could then lead to more pressure on Burrow and well… We know what could happen from there.

Cincinnati Bengals season prediction for 2022

  • 11-6 record
  • 1st place in AFC North
  • Playoff Prediction: Loss in Divisional Round

While the Bengals could win the Super Bowl this year, there are a lot of good teams in the AFC and that’s going to make it tricky for them. The Ravens are healthier this year and could give Cincinnati a run in the division so picking the stripes to win the division was almost a coin flip.

Ultimately, the Bengals had a lot of luck on their side last year and while the team is better this year, the best team doesn’t always win in the end. I predict they get an unlucky break or two in the AFC Divisional Round and get bounced early from the playoffs.

Read more from FanSided’s 2022 NFL Preview here. For more Cincinnati Bengals coverage, check out Stripe Hype

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