CINCINNATI — It’s been speculated many times since the end of the AFC Championship in Kansas City that if the Bengals had the game vs. Kansas City on their home turf, they would’ve advanced to their second straight Super Bowl.
But, more to the point, if the Bengals had to win only two games to get to the big game in Arizona, they would’ve had much better odds.
The chances of advancing to the Super Bowl increase greatly for the team with the No. 1 seed in each conference.
The point of all of this is that the Bengals are going to do – and should do – everything in their power to acquire the No. 1 seed in the upcoming season to give themselves the best shot at the big game to bring home the big prize.
The Bengals ran an incredible streak of great breaks and timely plays to win three games in the postseason two years ago to make it to Super Bowl LVI. They nearly pulled it off again last year, something no team has ever done, win three straight game two years in a row to make it to back-to-back Super Bowls.
The Bengals were thisclose to four road playoff wins in two years to win back-to-back AFC titles, again something no NFL team has ever accomplished, three of which would’ve come in the hardest places in the NFL to win on the road, Kansas City and Buffalo.
The goal is to win the Super Bowl. Getting there is half the battle. And with that, I present the Bengals 2023 schedule forecast:
Week 1, Sunday, Sept. 10:
We all know the storyline here. The Bengals and Joe Burrow have been brutal in this venue since Burrow began his career in 2020. Burrow is 0-2 at FirstEnergy Stadium, with the loss in Week 2 of 2020. The Halloween show last year was a true nightmare, the 31-13 blowout that saw the Bengals lose No. 1 corner Chido Awuzie to a torn ACL. The Bengals have just one win against the Browns in the Burrow era in six tries. The Bengals will feel the urgency to get over this hurdle in Week 1. They’ll have answers for Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, Deshaun Watson and Nick Chubb.
Bengals 27, Browns 23
Week 2, Sunday, Sept. 17:
BALTIMORE at Paycor:
If the Bengals want home field in January, they need to establish it in September. And they need it against their most fierce competitor in the AFC North. They barely beat the Ravens in the wild card round. The offense should be sharper this time around and the defense will be ready for Lamar Jackson. The home opener should be a good one for the Stripes.
Bengals 30, Ravens 20
The defense continued to dominate. pic.twitter.com/UL2PdOK3C8
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 10, 2023
Week 3: Monday, Sept. 25:
LA RAMS at Paycor:
It will be a festive night, with the two latest names going up on the Ring of Honor on the East facade of Paycor at halftime of Monday night football. The Bengals have the better roster. The Rams will be traveling cross-country and coming off two big NFC West games to open the season, at Seattle and home to the Niners. This one should be a relatively strong statement win.
Bengals 34, Rams 17
Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1:
The Titans are rebuilding and Ryan Tannehill will be battling rookie Will Levis. The game is on the road but the Bengals have shown over the last several seasons, they’re not intimidated playing in Nashville. The Bengals are 3-0 against the men of Mike Vrabel since the 2020 season. Bengals figure to take care of business in this one.
Bengals 24, Titans 14
Cincinnati 🤝 winning streaks
— NFL (@NFL) June 22, 2023
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8:
Another rebuilding team that doesn’t figure to be in the same class as the Niners or Seahawks in the NFC West. A second-straight road game traveling cross country to Arizona has usually been a formula for a loss. But these Bengals should be prepared for the travel. Keep Kyler Murray from running all over and this one should be another road win.
Bengals 23, Cardinals 17
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 15:
SEATTLE at Paycor:
This game will test the Bengals secondary. Geno Smith now has DK Metcalf, Tyler Lockett and Jaxon Smith-Njigba as targets running all over the place. How will Nick Scott, Dax Hill, Chido Awuzie and Cam Taylor-Britt handle it? Home game gives the Bengals just enough of a boost to help Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgins put the game away late.
Bengals 27, Seahawks 24
Week 7: BYE (Watching Reds in NLCS)
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29:
At SAN FRANCISCO:
Nothing like coming out of the bye with the second-toughest road game (on paper) on the regular season schedule. For the third time in five seasons, the Bengals refresh their most intense rivalry from the NFC. The Bengals have struggled against San Francisco over the years. They were blown out in Zac Taylor’s second game as Bengals head coach in 2019 when they lost 41-10 in Cincinnati. Two years later, they lost the heartbreaker, 26-23, in overtime. These Niners of Kyle Shanahan will test Lou Anarumo’s defense unlike any team this side of Kansas City. Their defense was shutting down everyone last season until they ran into Jalen Hurts and the Eagles in the NFC title game. Bengals find a way to win at Levi’s (like they did in 2015) and stay perfect as Evan McPherson kicks game-winner.
Bengals 22, 49ers 20
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5:
BUFFALO at Paycor:
This will be an emotional game for the whole country as the two teams meet on the same ground that Damar Hamlin collapsed on Jan. 2. But business is business, and that emotion will give way to the significance of the game for the Bengals, who will need the game for home field purposes in January. The Bengals started out hot in that Jan. 2 game on a Monday night. The Bengals dominated with a strong run game in the AFC Divisional. The Bengals find a way to stay perfect.
Bengals 23, Bills 19
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12:
HOUSTON at Paycor:
In typical years, this would serve as the classic letdown game, as was the case in 2015 when the Bengals had their perfect 8-0 start ruined by DeAndre Hopkins and the Texans in a 10-6 win on Monday night football. Not this year. The Bengals are a much, much hungrier and focused club.
Bengals 24, Texans 12
Week 11: Thursday, Nov. 16:
This is the logical first spot for a loss. Ravens, short week, desperate to make a statement and catch up in the AFC North with a win over a Bengals team that is the midst of a run to an unprecedented third straight AFC North title. Lamar Jackson gets the crowd going early and often.
Ravens 31, Bengals 16
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26:
PITTSBURGH at Paycor:
Ten days to lick their wounds from Baltimore should be enough to handle second-year QB Kenny Pickett and the Steelers at home.
Bengals 28, Steelers 13
Week 13: Monday, Dec. 4:
Trevor Lawrence shines in this game. Any quarterback that can overcome a 27-0 hole in a playoff game deserves all sorts of respect. Lawrence has become the man in Jacksonville and this is the Jaguars chance to prove a point against a Bengals team that has Super Bowl aspirations. This is likely an AFC playoff preview, maybe even the AFC championship game that nearly happened in January when the Jaguars came up just short in KC.
Jaguars 20, Bengals 17
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10:
INDIANAPOLIS at Paycor:
This game should be a no-brainer for the Bengals. Just don’t let running back Jonathan Taylor go off. Anthony Richardson is a rookie quarterback. This also marks the homecoming for former UC receiving star Alec Pierce. This is all Bengals.
Bengals 41, Colts 20
Week 15: Sat. or Sun. Dec. 16/17
MINNESOTA at Paycor:
Justin Jefferson comes to town to compare Griddy moves with former LSU teammate Ja’Marr Chase. The Bengals barely survived the Vikings in their last visit to Cincinnati, the 27-24 overtime thriller in the 2021 season opener. This one should not be as close. Vikings are not rebuilding but trying to rework their roster and could likely be chasing the Lions in the NFC North by this point. Bengals have more weapons on both sides of the ball. No last-second Evan McPherson heroics needed this time.
Bengals 26, Vikings 21
Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 23:
Two days before Christmas on the road. My mind immediately goes back to Foxboro last year when the Bengals raced out to a 22-0 lead before nearly suffering an epic meltdown before Vonn Bell forced a Rhamondre Stevenson fumbled that saved Christmas. Bengals should have plenty in the tank in terms of motivation and sweep the Steelers for the second time in three seasons, and not look ahead to the Week 17 matchup in KC.
Bengals 19, Steelers 16
This just in! pic.twitter.com/GcpAVxqwSQ
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) May 10, 2023
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31:
At KANSAS CITY:
The entire NFL will have their eyes on this game that will lead everyone into New Year’s Eve celebrations. The Bengals and Chiefs will be playing this game for the third straight year in the regular season and the No. 1 seed will be on the line. The whole point of this exercise was to stress the significance of the top seed in the AFC and the ONLY first-round bye. The Bengals, if healthy, will have enough to contain Patrick Mahomes and Travis Kelce this time. The Bengals find a way to beat the Chiefs like they have in three of the last four meetings between the two hottest AFC rivals. Evan McPherson wins the No. 1 seed at the gun
Bengals 30, Chiefs 28
December 4, 2022 vs Chiefs@GermainePratt7 said “GIMMIE THAT”
Let's go back to Week 13 ⬇️ pic.twitter.com/Z5Djeqjrb4
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) June 7, 2023
Week 18: Sat. or Sun. Jan. 7/8:
CLEVELAND at Paycor:
Like 2021, the Bengals will have a game against the Browns in the final week that won’t impact their chances at the No. 1 seed. This time, though, they will have it wrapped up. And this time, Trevor Siemian starts and throws three TDs and goes for 325 yards and there’s a QB controversy. Not quite. But Siemian leads the Bengals to their 15th win and the Bengals become the seventh NFL team with 15 regular season wins, and the first in the AFC since the 2007 Patriots went 16-0.
Bengals 24, Browns 20
There you have it. This is how the Bengals capture the No. 1 seed in the AFC. Just go 15-2, simple as that. All that’s left is to go out and do it.