NFL Win Total Predictions: Was last year a fluke for the Cincinnati Bengals?

by Chuck Sommers

With preseason about a couple of months away, we're taking a look at each NFL team and how the books see their schedules playing out. As we continue this series, you can check out our other teams and our predictions for if the totals hit. Today, we look at the reigning AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals.

Check out our past win total predictions:


They were one quarter away. That seems to be the common theme for the runner-ups in the Super Bowl in recent memory. The Cincinnati Bengals were probably the toughest test for the Los Angeles Rams in the Super Bowl, both in terms of an offensive force and a solid defense.

But as expected, the Bengals ran out of gas and couldn't find a way to stop Aaron Donald decimating their offensive line. But nevertheless, the Bengals overachieved a great deal, defeating the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans to make it back to the Super Bowl.

What last year can tell is that the Bengals coming off a Super Bowl, compared to the last time 30-plus years ago, is who leads the charge at quarterback. Joe Burrow is entering Year 3 and clearly shows that not only he belongs, but he might be the savior of the Bengals.

The years of Boomer Esiason, Carson Palmer and Andy Dalton have all led to this moment for this young quarterback to take over. He's starting to get the weapons needed to lead this offense, the offensive line is still a work in progress, and the defense is still solid.

The biggest question for the Bengals now, is can they build off last year? With the likes of the Chiefs still being the class of the AFC, and the Buffalo Bills still remaining a legit threat, can the Bengals still hold firm on the AFC North and can Burrow continue to win these big games?

I don't think the Bengals are a fluke, per se, but trying to stay on top is a lot harder than getting there. And in the case of Burrow and the Bengals, the timeline has been accelerated.

Odds at USA Sportsbooks


DraftKings: 10 wins (Over +105, Under -125)
FanDuel:
9.5 wins (Even -110)
BetMGM:
9.5 wins (Over -115, Under -105)

Notables


  • Last season's record: 10-7-0
  • Made playoffs and won AFC North for first time since 2015
  • Won a playoff game for the first time since 1990
  • Defeated Raiders, Titans and Chiefs to make Super Bowl for first time since 1988
  • Lost Super Bowl LVI, 23-20, to the Los Angeles Rams
  • Joe Burrow -- 4,403 yards, 36 TDs, 14 INTs in first full year as a starter
  • Joe Mixon -- 1,205 yards, 13 touchdowns on the ground
  • Ja'Marr Chase -- 81 receptions, 1,455 yards, 13 TD in rookie season, looked great with former college teammate Burrow

Top storyline


I don't think there's a doubt that Joe Burrow can continue to be a great quarterback. I don't think there's any doubt that he won't regress. What we saw from him last year is exactly what can become the normal in Cincinnati for the next decade. 

Everything fell into place for Burrow; his play opened a lot of things up for Joe Mixon, for example. Mixon is already a talented running back, but had his best year last season with over 1,200 yards and 13 touchdowns.

There's also the matter of Ja'Marr Chase becoming an elite receiver at just 21 years old. Sure, the chemistry was evident from the two former LSU teammates. But to emerge in his rookie season the way that he did, to take on double teams and matchups alike, and to shake off a rough start filled with drops to become the unanimous rookie of the year was a storyline that fit perfectly for a movie.

Then there was also Tee Higgins, who emerged at 22 to become a 1,000-yard receiver. Tyler Boyd had over 800 yards in the best year of his career. The weapons are there. The Bengals even signed La'el Collins to bolster the one bit of weakness on the Bengals, and that still let Burrow become a dominant quarterback and come within minutes of winning a Super Bowl.

But for the Bengals to get to where they want to go again, and eventually win a title, it's about sustaining that. It's about keeping that momentum going while keeping the franchise upright. Burrow was sacked 51 times last season. That can't happen. I have never seen someone make an offensive line look like barbecue chicken more than Aaron Donald did in the fourth quarter of the Super Bowl. With the addition of Collins, hopefully that's a step in the right direction.

Defensively, the Bengals got a lot of pressure on quarterbacks. Trey Hendrickson nearly had a sack per game, finishing with 14 in the regular season. They need more pressure. Sam Hubbard had 7.5 and Larry Ogunjobi, who was third with 7 sacks, is now in Pittsburgh.

The onus will be on Hubbard to produce. He had 8.5 sacks three years ago, then regressed to two before pushing back up near that total. If the Bengals want to win games, and be a threat in the AFC, they need to get to the quarterback. Is there enough on this D-line? I'm not sure.

2022 schedule


Week 1 (9/11) -- vs. Steelers

Week 2 (9/18) -- at Cowboys

Week 3 (9/25) -- at Jets

Week 4 (9/29) -- vs. Dolphins (Thursday)

Week 5 (10/9) -- at Ravens (Sunday night)

Week 6 (10/16) -- at Saints

Week 7 (10/23) -- vs. Falcons

Week 8 (10/31) -- at Browns (Monday night)

Week 9 (11/6) -- vs. Panthers

Week 10 -- BYE

Week 11 (11/20) -- at Steelers (Sunday night)

Week 12 (11/27) -- at Titans

Week 13 (12/4) -- vs. Chiefs

Week 14 (12/11) -- vs. Browns

Week 15 (12/18) -- at Buccaneers

Week 16 (12/24) -- at Patriots

Week 17 (1/2) -- vs. Bills (Monday night)

Week 18 (1/8) -- vs. Ravens

The Bengals have the horrendous honor of having nine road games to eight home games this year, but the good news is the bulk of those come at the beginning of the year. Cincinnati closes the year with four of their final six at home, including what could be important games against the Chiefs, Browns, Bills and Ravens -- two of those deciding rank in the AFC North, and the other two within rank of the conference, as well.

The season opens with three winnable games at home against the Steelers and Dolphins, and a road game against the Jets. Burrow is going to have to be great on the road for the Bengals to have a chance. I do think they win the division, and I do think they cash barely over the 10 mark. How they look at the Week 10 bye will go a long way in determining that.

VERDICT: OVER, 11-6-0

Chuck Sommers

About the Author:

Chuck Sommers has camped outside of sportsbooks since he can remember, learning the tricks and nuances of the trade. He still has nightmares of betting $5,000 on the Raiders in the Tuck Rule game but has since turned that to 25 years of veteran handicapping greatness. You can find him mostly in the shadows at the Red Rock or Aliante casinos wondering if the over is cashing on any given Sunday.

All photographic images used for editorial content have been licensed from the Associated Press.

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