The Cincinnati Bengals are in the middle of a multi-year rebuild, but they’ve already identified and secured several key pieces in that endeavor. Quarterback Joe Burrow was having an excellent rookie season before suffering a significant knee injury with damages to multiple ligaments that ended his year in Week 11. Burrow should be good to go to begin the 2021-22 campaign.
As the team continues to build around Burrow, big things are on the horizon for Cincinnati.
Cincinnati Bengals 2021 Schedule
The Bengals play in one of the most competitive divisions in the league, the AFC North. Each of the other teams in the division made the playoffs in 2020. As such, they are tied for the sixth-most difficult schedule this season.
|Week 1||Sep. 12||Minnesota Vikings|
|Week 2||Sep. 19||At Chicago Bears|
|Week 3||Sep. 26||At Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Week 4||Sep. 30||Jacksonville Jaguars|
|Week 5||Oct. 10||Green Bay Packers|
|Week 6||Oct. 17||At Detroit Lions|
|Week 7||Oct. 24||At Baltimore Ravens|
|Week 8||Oct. 31||At New York Jets|
|Week 9||Nov. 7||Cleveland Browns|
|Week 10||Nov. 14||BYE|
|Week 11||Nov. 21||At Las Vegas Raiders|
|Week 12||Nov. 28||Pittsburgh Steelers|
|Week 13||Dec. 5||Los Angeles Chargers|
|Week 14||Dec. 12||San Francisco 49ers|
|Week 15||Dec. 19||Denver Broncos|
|Week 16||Dec. 26||Baltimore Ravens|
|Week 17||Jan. 2||Kansas City Chiefs|
|Week 18||Jan. 9||Cleveland Browns|
The Bengals are not currently scheduled for a Sunday Night Football or Monday Night Football game, though if the division race is close late in the season, some of their matchups could be “flexed” into prime time. Additionally, the Bengals will play the Jacksonville Jaguars on Thursday Night Football in Week 4.
Cincinnati’s Week 10 bye falls at the halfway point of the season.
Cincinnati Bengals News & Picks
Cincinnati Bengals 2020 Summary
The Bengals’ 2020 season saw several close losses to begin the season, along with a tie on the road against the Philadelphia Eagles and a win at home over Jacksonville. Burrow stepped into the starting quarterback job right away as a rookie and threw for more than 300 yards in three of the first four weeks.
While expectations for the team weren’t high, the biggest goal was to be playing more competitively on both sides of the ball. The offense showed considerable growth, thanks in large part to the confidence Burrow inspired; Burrow was on pace to set rookie passing records in nearly every category. However, the defense struggled to keep up, particularly against the run, and Cincinnati suffered several losses as a result.
Disaster struck in Week 11 against the Washington Football Team when Burrow was injured on an awkward hit. Burrow tore his ACL and MCL and also damaged his PCL and meniscus, ending his promising season.
Making matters worse, running back Joe Mixon was dealing with an injury as well. He was injured in Week 6 and sat out three more games before he was put on injured reserve.
Without Burrow and Mixon, the Bengals turned to Brandon Allen and Ryan Finley under center to command the offense and handed the reins to Giovani Bernard out of the backfield. Down the stretch, Cincinnati pulled out wins over the Steelers and the Houston Texans, but they finished 4-11-1 overall.
Still, the record doesn’t tell the whole story of the Bengals’ season. Cincinnati has a good chance to double that win total this season.
Cincinnati Bengals Key Players
The Bengals’ draft plans came down to two players – left tackle Penei Sewell from Oregon or Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s favorite target while the two were teammates at LSU. Cincinnati opted for Chase, drawing criticism from fans and pundits alike who suggested especially after Burrow’s injury that getting one of the best O-line prospects of the past decade was a no-brainer.
Still, Chase should be in line for a monster season. The connection with Burrow was undeniable, and in the rare instance plays broke down, the two seemed to always know what the other would do. If they can recapture that magic, the Bengals’ offense will be in good shape.
Riley Reiff will have a tremendous responsibility in protecting Joe Burrow’s blindside as the left tackle. Reiff has spent time with the Detroit Lions and Minnesota Vikings since being drafted 23rd overall in 2012.
On the defensive side, Trae Waynes is healthy after suffering a pectoral injury before the start of the 2020 season. The 29-year-old was a solid coverage cornerback for the Minnesota Vikings and one of the best secondary run-stoppers in the league before his injury.
Cincinnati Bengals New Additions
- Eli Apple, CB
- Chidobe Awuzi, CB
- Ja’Marr Chase, WR (first round draft pick)
- Mike Daniels, DT
- Samaje Perine, RB
- Riley Reiff, OT
Cincinnati Bengals Key Subtractions
- Mackensie Alexander, CB (signed with the Minnesota Vikings)
- Josh Bynes, LB (unsigned in free agency)
- Randy Bullock, K (signed with the Detroit Lions)
- A.J. Green, WR (signed with the Arizona Cardinals)
- John Ross III, WR (signed with the New York Giants)
AFC North Division Outlook
The Bengals have the lowest over/under win total among AFC North teams at 6.5. The Baltimore Ravens lead the way at 11.5, with the Cleveland Browns (10.5) and Pittsburgh Steelers (8.5) close behind. There is a realistic chance the AFC North sends three teams to the playoffs once again this season.
Cincinnati Bengals Offense
The Bengals offense needs much improved O-line play to allow the playmakers a chance to shine. Tee Higgins, the 33rd overall pick in the 2020 draft, will be a great threat opposite Chase, and Tyler Boyd will give Cincinnati three major aerial threats.
Tight end Drew Sample showed some chemistry with Burrow before the injury. He may need to compete for target share, though perhaps he may see a slight uptick in volume with A.J. Green and Giovani Bernard out of the way.
A healthy Mixon gives the Bengals a 1,000-yard threat in the backfield and someone who can pick up tough yards on third down as well. Samaje Perine is an interesting change-of-pace option. Perine is firmly established as the backup back after being a third-stringer last season, impressing with 4.8 yards per carry after Mixon went to the injured list.
Cincinnati Bengals Defense
Cincinnati’s defense will be a major focus in the 2022 draft, as it was in 2021. The Bengals drafted defensive ends Joseph Ossai and Cam Sample in the third and fourth round of this year’s draft, along with defensive tackle Tyler Shelvin in the fourth to shore up the line. With veterans like Mike Daniels to help bring them along, all three should be competing for starting jobs before the season is over.
The linebacker group of Logan Wilson, Germaine Pratt and Akeem Davis-Gaither is young but improving (Pratt was drafted in 2019, Wilson and Davis-Gaither in 2020). The trio combined for 1.5 sacks in 2020-21, and that number should go up this year. Pratt finished fourth on the team with 89 combined tackles last season. With Josh Bynes out of the way ahead of him, Pratt could exceed 100 combined tackles.
Waynes will be the Bengals’ top cornerback entering the season and Chidobe Awuzie should be serviceable as well, bolstering the defensive backfield. Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III are all over the field as safeties and will make life difficult for opposing receivers.
Cincinnati Bengals FAQs
What is the Cincinnati Bengals all-time record?
Who owns the Cincinnati Bengals?
How many Super Bowls have the Bengals won?
The Bengals have never won the Super Bowl. They have two Super Bowl appearances in franchise history (1981, 1988).
Who is the quarterback for the Cincinnati Bengals?
Joe Burrow, in his second season out of LSU, is the starting quarterback for the Bengals.