Bengals record projections hint at return to playoffs

·1 min read

The Cincinnati Bengals are one of the most interesting teams to project in recent years.

Those Bengals bulldozed their way to the Super Bowl last year despite a struggling offensive line, years of rebuilding and a quarterback coming back early from a season-ending knee injury.

For some, the run was almost a fluke as the team got hot at the right time and regression will surely follow. For others, the team could only get better in 2022 as things keep clicking and that offensive line got upgraded multiple times.

One set of projections, at least, has the Bengals racking up 12 wins and earning the fifth seed in the AFC.

USA Today’s Nate Davis (subscriber only) explained:

“(5) Cincinnati Bengals (12-5): The defending AFC champs used free agency to address their glaring weakness – offensive line – a unit that might need extra time to jell given LT Jonah Williams projects as the only holdover from the starting front five in Super Bowl 56. Otherwise? An extended absence from franchised S Jessie Bates III wouldn’t help, but first-rounder Dax Hill is poised to fill in. And with an ascendant quarterback in Joe Burrow and the best wide receiver trio (Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd) in the league, this crew is poised to do more damage – especially since Cincinnati won’t face a team that won a playoff game last season until December.”

That’s an identical record to Baltimore, though the Ravens win the division and have the second seed in the AFC in these projections.

Training camp is an interesting beast that could decide much for the Bengals this year as the writeup mentions. The team upgraded the offensive line three times and hopes second-round product Jackson Carman can fend off fourth-round rookie Cordell Volson for the other starting spot.

While the line needs to mesh well in camp, coaches can’t actually complain too much about Jessie Bates’ absence because it means first-round rookie Dax Hill gets the first-team reps.

Either way, we projected a similar outcome for the Bengals in our game-by-game predictions because the offense should only get better and the defense somehow remains one of the most overlooked units in the league.

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Cincinnati Bengals 53-man roster projection as training camp starts