The 2021 Cincinnati Bengals have set the bar pretty high with a surprising run to the Super Bowl. Time will tell if the 2022 team can get Cincinnati back into the NFL title game.
A year ago at this time, the critics were still calling out the Bengals for passing on the top offensive tackle in the draft to select receiver Ja’Marr Chase. All Chase did was have one of the best rookie seasons by a receiver in league history. Cincinnati addressed the offensive line during this offseason with the signings of Alex Cappa, La’el Collins and Ted Karras. Keeping franchise quarterback Joe Burrow free of the pressure he felt a season ago could hold the key to the season.
Cincinnati brings back its top three receivers and seven of its top eight tacklers, so the pieces are in place for another impressive season for the Bengals..
Cincinnati would be well advised to take care of business during the early portion of the season because things get a little daunting down the stretch with games against Tampa Bay, New England and Buffalo in consecutive weeks late in the season.
The Bengals (+200) are behind the Baltimore Ravens in the current odds to win the AFC North Division title. According to the Las Vegas odds, Cincinnati (+2000) is tied for fifth among AFC teams in the odds to win the Super Bowl.
- 2021 record: 10-7 (first in AFC North)
- Playoff results: Lost to Los Angeles Rams 23-20 in the Super Bowl.
- Season opener: vs Pittsburgh Steelers, Sept. 11, 1 p.m. ET
- Playoff teams on 2022 schedule: HOME – Buffalo, Kansas City, Pittsburgh; AWAY – Dallas, New England, Pittsburgh, Tampa Bay, Tennessee
- Key newcomers: OL Alex Cappa, OL La’el Collins, OL Ted Karras, TE Hayden Hurst, DB Daxton Hill (first-round pick), CB Cam Taylor-Britt (second-round pick), DL Zachary Carter (third-round pick).
- Key losses: DL Larry Ogunjobi, OL Riley Reiff, OL Quinton Spain, WR Auden Tate, TE C.J. Uzomah, CB Darius Phillips, S Ricardo Allen, OL Fred Johnson, OL Trey Hopkins, CB Trae Waynes.
- Award candidates: Joe Burrow, +2500 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Ja’Marr Chase, +3300 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Daxton Hill, +3300 in the NFL Defensive Rookie of the Year odds; Trey Hendrickson, +5000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Jessie Bates III, +6000 in the NFL Defensive Player of the Year odds; Joe Mixon, +6000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds; Tee Higgins, +7000 in the NFL Offensive Player of the Year odds.
Any discussion about the Cincinnati offense starts with former college teammates Joe Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase. It took them little time to re-establish the chemistry they displayed at LSU as Burrow and Chase became one of the most feared quarterback-receiver tandems in the league. The best could be yet to come. Add in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd and the Cincinnati passing offense could be a nightmare to slow down for opposing teams once again.
Chase (+1000) is tied for third according to the NFL betting lines in the NFL odds to have the most receiving yards in the NFL while Burrow is tied for the sixth-best odds to lead the league in passing yards.
There are some rumblings that Joe Mixon’s days as a three-down running back could be coming to an end. Chris Evans is earning plenty of buzz during the offseason while Samaje Perine was second to Mixon in 2021 in rushing attempts.
Tight end Hayden Hurst was brought in to replace C.J. Uzomah. Hurst had 56 catches and six touchdowns for Atlanta in 2020, but his role was reduced with the arrival of rookie Kyle Pitts last season.
A key point producer in the postseason was rookie kicker Evan McPherson, and there could be more clutch kicks coming for him in 2022.
It will be interesting to see what the Cincinnati offense looks like with what should be an improved offensive line. Only three AFC teams averaged more passing yards per game in 2021 despite the constant pressure that Burrow was subjected to from opposing pass rushers.
There is plenty of room for growth on defense. First-round pick Daxton Hill should help a team that ranked 26th in the NFL in passing yards allowed a season ago. Teams tried to exploit issues in the secondary so with that in mind, the Bengals not only used their first pick on Hill, but came back in the second round to select cornerback Cam Taylor-Britt.
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) May 7, 2022
Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard give Cincinnati a dynamic pair of defensive ends. Joseph Ossai was opening some eyesas a rookie before going down with a season-ending knee injury during the preseason. Defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi will be missed although with B.J. Hill and D.J. Reader, Cincinnati is just fine at that position.
There might not be a more underappreciated defensive player in the NFL than linebacker Logan Wilson. He not only led Cincinnati in tackles last season, he was also the team leader with four interceptions.
Linebacker Germaine Pratt as well as safeties Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates give Cincinnati a physical presence. Cincinnati needed to update its coverage ability and the Bengals hope that was addressed in the draft.
2022 Bengals Outlook
This is one exciting team to watch with Burrow throwing the ball to Chase, Higgins and Boyd. After using their first two selections on offensive players in each of the last three drafts, Cincinnati turned to improving the defense with each of its first three selections.
Kicking off the season by playing division rival Pittsburgh followed by the road opener in Dallas will be a way to test the secondary in the early portion of the season. Their next seven games before a Week 10 bye will come against non-playoff teams in 2021.
If the free-agent additions tighten things up on the offensive line, watch out for the Bengals during the 2022 season. They won’t sneak up on people who bet online like they did a season ago.