CINCINNATI — The Cincinnati Bengals’ 2022 schedule was released along with the rest of the NFL slate Thursday.
The season will kick off on Thursday, Sept. 8 with the Los Angeles Rams hosting the Buffalo Bills at SoFi Stadium. ESPN opens its schedule with Monday Night Football on Sept. 12, featuring the Denver Broncos hosting the Seattle Seahawks.
The NFL expanded to 17 regular-season games last season. The final regular-season games in 2022 will be played Jan. 8, 2023. The playoffs begin Jan. 14, and continue through Super Bowl LVII on Feb. 12, in Glendale, Arizona.
Here’s what’s in store for the Bengals:
Sept. 11: vs. Pittsburgh
Sept. 18: at Dallas
Sept. 25: at N.Y. Jets
Sept. 29: vs. Miami (TNF)
Oct. 9: at Baltimore (SNF)
Oct. 16: at New Orleans
Oct. 23: vs. Atlanta
Oct. 31: at Cleveland (MNF)
Nov. 6: vs. Carolina
Nov. 20: at Pittsburgh (SNF)
Nov. 27: at Tennessee
Dec. 4: Kansas City
Dec. 11: Cleveland
Dec. 18: at Tampa Bay
Dec. 24: at New England
Jan. 2: vs. Buffalo
Jan. 7 or 8: vs. Baltimore
Strength of schedule: T-3rd, .536
The Bengals captured the nation’s attention during their Super Bowl run last season. That success was rewarded with five prime-time games, including two appearances on ESPN’s Monday Night Football. Cincinnati had just three prime-time games in the previous three seasons combined. The Bengals spent last season breaking a playoff drought that lasted more than 30 years. Cincinnati is hoping its struggles on national TV follow that trend as well. The target for the rest of the AFC will be on quarterback Joe Burrow and the defending conference champions. The national spotlight will be fixed on the Bengals, too.
Cincinnati had a ton of bright spots during its best season since 1988. One of them, however, was not last year’s trip to the Meadowlands to face the New York Jets. Back-up quarterback Mike White threw for more than 400 yards as the Jets shellacked the Bengals on Week 8.
Cincinnati will have a chance to shake off bad vibes from last year’s loss on a Week 4 trip to the East Coast. It could also help the Bengals build some early-season momentum during a lighter part of the schedule.
What Vegas thinks
The Bengals are one of three AFC North teams with an over/under of 9.5 wins. Last season, the Bengals exceeded expectations with a 10-win season. Cincinnati will need another strong defensive year and for its offense to click as it did in wins over Kansas City and Baltimore if it wants to have a shot of hitting double digits.
The Bengals repeat as AFC North champions. The rest of the AFC definitely got stronger this offseason, but Cincinnati is still poised to be the team to beat in the division. The Week 8 game loss to Cleveland aside, the Bengals played some of their best football against divisional rivals in 2021. That should continue as the Bengals look to make another deep postseason run.