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Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Season Preview

Photo courtesy of Tommy Gilligan-USA TODAY Sports Facebook.

Cincinnati Bengals 2023 Season Preview & Record Prediction

2022 Record: 12-4

The Cincinnati Bengals came within a field goal of the Super Bowl in 2022, losing 23-20 to the Kansas City Chiefs in the AFC Championship game. Joe Burrow and Co. will be fighting back in 2023 as they attempt to overthrow the likes of Kansas City and Buffalo on their way back to the Super Bowl, and the roster is looking stronger than ever going into the season.

Joe Burrow might be on the brink of a record-breaking contract, and the Bengals are extremely settled both with their roster and coaching staff as the new season begins. Zac Taylor is now going into his fifth year with the organization and has to be credited for the stunning job he’s done since his arrival back in 2019. The Bengals’ misery as one of the worst franchises in football seems to be long forgotten; now, without a doubt, they are one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC. While Cincinnati was a tremendous season, they will be looking to improve upon a 3-3 division record, splitting games with all three of the Browns, Ravens, and Steelers.

Cincinnati got off to a slow start in 2022 as the new-look offensive line took time to gel, but once they figured it out, they managed to go 10-1 in the final 11 games of the regular season and headed for the playoffs as one of the hottest teams in the league.

Previewing the Bengals’ Offense

 The Bengals made one major addition in free agency this season, signing left tackle Orlando Brown Jr to a four-year $64 million deal. The signing is big for the franchise, bringing in a huge tackle who can protect Joe Burrow’s blindside, and his presence should help to further strengthen a line that the Bengals poured a lot of money into in the 2022 off-season. Brown’s signature will likely mean that Jonah Williams moves to right tackle, at least until La’el Collins is able to return from his knee injury.

The Bengals wide receivers need no introduction, boasting one of the best tandems in football right now with Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins. Chase’s connection with Joe Burrow picked up exactly where it left off when the Bengals drafted him sixth overall, and he is now, without a doubt, one of the very best in the league at the position.

Tee Higgins has been labeled the number two, but people seem to forget that he, too, was just one pick away from being drafted in the first round. The Bengals got a steal when he was still available at the beginning of day two back in 2020, joining Joe Burrow in a franchise-altering draft that season.

The two receivers both cleared 1,000 yards in the regular season in 2022, sharing 16 touchdowns between them. Tyler Boyd then presents a superb third option and could easily be a WR2 on several other teams around the league.

Joe Mixon restructured his deal and stayed with the franchise, despite rumors that he might be released or traded, and will now be supported by free agency pick-up Trayveon Williams and promising rookie Chase Brown.

The only other key change for the offense is the switch from Hayden Hurst to Irv Smith Jr. at tight end. Hurst was excellent for the Bengals last season but signed a veteran deal with the Carolina Panthers, and Cincinnati now feels they can replicate his form with the former Vikings tight end in Smith Jr.

Previewing the Bengals’ Defense

 The key storyline here around the Bengals’ defense is the departure of both starting safeties. Jessie Bates signed a free agency deal with the Atlanta Falcons after the Bengals decided they weren’t going to pay him a salary that put him in the upper echelons of safety salaries, and Vonn Bell headed to Carolina under similar circumstances.

The Bengals will now turn to 2022 first-round pick Dax Hill full-time, giving him a far larger role this season than he had as a rookie. Nick Scott then signed in free agency, having come over from the Rams, and those two are expected to take over the starting responsibilities full-time to start the season. Jordan Battle should challenge for one of those roles, coming in as a rookie with first-round grades who ended up being available in the third round. Cincinnati did bring back Germaine Pratt, who will play a key role in the linebacker room, with Logan Wilson, who led the team last season in tackles by a longshot.

There are some question marks around the cornerbacks, especially with Chidobe Awuzie tearing his ACL during the 2022 season. He starts this year on the PUP list, and we’ll await an update on his likelihood to play early this season. The combination of Sam Hubbard and Trey Hendrickson on the defensive line is seriously underrated, and those two should continue to wreak havoc this season for the Bengals. One of the most noticeable things surrounding the Bengals’ defense is the level of depth. They’re filling out the roster with a lot of talent, and the rotation on defense is one of the AFCs best.

Important Games

Browns (September 10th)

Ravens (September 17th)

49ers (October 29th)

Bills (November 5th)

Ravens (November 16th)

Steelers (November 26th)

Vikings (December 17th)

Chiefs (December 31st)

Projected Outlook

The Cincinnati Bengals are as well positioned as they will ever be to challenge in the AFC this season. Their offense is stacked to the rafters with talented playmakers, and when you’ve got Joe Cool at quarterback, throwing to two of the best receivers in the league, you’ve always got a chance.

The young players on defense will need to step up into starting roles, with a lot on the shoulders of the likes of Dax Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt in the secondary. If those guys can fill those roles seamlessly, the Bengals’ defense will be as good as any this season.

Ultimately, Cincinnati needs to beat Buffalo and Kansas City on the night. Those rivalries budding in the AFC will likely continue to rise over the next few years with some of the league’s best franchise quarterbacks. The Bengals will have a chance to take down both of those teams in the regular season and need to do the same in the playoffs to fire their way into another Super Bowl.

A better start to the season could prove critical, and if they’re as hot at the beginning of this year as they were at the tail end of last year, their momentum could be the difference. With the way their schedule opens up, winning two division games to kick the year off will give them a huge boost, and they have a very real chance of going 5-0 with games against Cleveland, Baltimore, the L.A. Rams, Tennessee, and Arizona.

Predicted Record: (12-5) Super Bowl Contender

Joe Burrow Training Camp Injury Perspective

During the opening week of training camp, a setback struck quarterback Joe Burrow as he suffered a calf injury. Head coach Zac Taylor confirmed the injury as a calf strain while speaking to ESPN and media representatives last Friday. The non-contact incident occurred last Thursday, forcing Burrow to be sidelined for several weeks. In a precautionary move, the Bengals swiftly signed former XFL quarterback Reid Sinnett. Despite the unfortunate situation, Coach Taylor expressed confidence in Burrow’s long-term health, emphasizing that the injury occurred early in training camp rather than just before the season opener. With this perspective in mind, we maintain our belief that the Cincinnati Bengals have the potential to emerge as one of the top teams in the AFC during the 2023 season.

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