After diving into free agency and then selecting Joe Burrow with the No. 1 overall pick, the Cincinnati Bengals should be a tough out in their 2020 NFL schedule.
It’s a new era in Cincinnati Bengals football. The Bengals used the No. 1 overall pick to select 2019 Heisman Trophy winner Joe Burrow out of LSU. The incredibly accurate quarterback grew up in nearby Athens, Ohio. Though he left Ohio to play the final two years of his college ball in Baton Rouge, it was fate he’d return to his home state to help turn around a long moribund franchise.
Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game in Burrow’s lifetime. Though the Bengals had commendable regular-season success under former head coach Marvin Lewis, Cincinnati went 2-14 in the first year of the Zac Taylor era in the Queen City. Surely, the Bengals can’t be as bad as they were a season ago. How much of a marked improvement will we see out of these AFC North tigers?
Cincinnati inherits a fourth-place schedule this year out of competitive balance. Of course, the Bengals play all three of their division rivals twice this fall. They also get the AFC South and the NFC East out of division rotation this year. There are more wins to be had this year for the Bengals, but how many more will they get? Will they double their win total or do better than that?
Here is a game-by-game breakdown of how the Bengals could do with their 2020 NFL schedule.
Los Angeles Chargers
As part of their fourth-place schedule in the AFC, the Bengals will host the Los Angeles Chargers in a class of 2020 first-round picks. It’ll be Joe Burrow’s first game vs. Justin Herbert. They’ll go toe-to-toe for a bit before the Bolts’ defense takes over in the second half. Gus Bradley dials up some blitzes Zac Taylor has never seen. He looks to be over his skis yet again. Chargers, 33-22.
The best way for the Bengals to gain respectability in the tough AFC North is to attack one rival relentlessly. Clearly, the most vulnerable team in the division is the Cleveland Browns. Though it remains to be seen if Joe Burrow is a better pro quarterback than Baker Mayfield, The Geauxt does get the best of his Heisman brother when the meet on the lake for the first time. Bengals, 28-21.
Of course, there will be games where the Bengals will be outclassed from the jump. When they walk into Lincoln Financial Field to take on the Philadelphia Eagles, they will have already lost. Joe Burrow plays one of the worst games of his pro career, as he turns the ball over four times. Carson Wentz and The Birds put Cincinnati away before halftime and never look back. Eagles, 30-12.
This is a game the Bengals can’t lose. Fortunately for them and their fans, they’ll get it done and hand the Jacksonville Jaguars a defeat when they come to Southeast Ohio. It may not be the game that gets Bengals fans or the national media fired up about this team, but this will be the Bengals’ most complete game of the season. This is a win they can certainly build on. Bengals, 24-20.