As they enter the peak of the offseason with the 2023 NFL Draft, the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves approaching a turning point for the franchise. While they’re in an excellent position now as playoff contenders for the foreseeable future with the help of a superstar quarterback like Joe Burrow, their honeymoon period is about to end. Burrow has just two years left on his rookie contract (in effect a pennies on the dollar deal as quarterback contracts inflate more than ever, a phenomenon that just got worse on Thursday afternoon as the Baltimore Ravens locked franchise cornerstone Lamar Jackson into a long term deal). Once the Bengals shell out to keep Burrow in town, they’ll have to pinch pennies across the rest of the roster to stay under the salary cap, making savvy business deals and smart draft picks the name of the game in their quest to win the first Super Bowl in franchise history.
The time is now for the Bengals to roll the dice: the team, a favorite for Bet365 Ohio, is working hard on their current lineup since they fell just short on the road in the 2023 AFC Championship game against the eventual Super Bowl champions, the Kansas City Chiefs. As of right now, Cincinnati is listed at +900 to win Super Bowl LVIII at Bet365 Ohio, the fifth-best odds in the NFL (third-best in the AFC).
Here’s a look at how the Bengals’ offseason is developing so far, and while we don’t know exactly how their schedule will shake out yet, what teams they’ll end up facing in 2023.
The Bengals lost a slate of top free agents this offseason, with players like Jessie Bates, Hayden Hurst, Vonn Bell and Samaje Perine leaving town. They don’t have a ton of cap space, so while they were able to go out and grab pro bowl tackle Orlando Brown Jr., all the other signings they made were for depth pieces (which isn’t to discount the importance of their signings, just that they weren’t able to go for the home run). Similarly, they had to reserve some of their cap space for the incoming draft class, their best chance at bolstering the roster with limited funds.
Now for a look at their 2023 schedule.
First and foremost, the Bengals will play a home and home series with each of the three rival teams in the AFC North division, the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Ravens and the Cleveland Browns. The next eight games on their schedule come from the two divisions (one AFC and one NFC) they’re matched up with this year, who they play on a cyclical basis: once every three years in the AFC, once every four years for the NFC. The AFC North is matched up against the AFC South in 2023, so the Bengals will have games against the Indianapolis Colts and Houston Texans at home in Cincinnati, while they’ll go on the road to face the Jacksonville Jaguars and the Tennessee Titans.
In the inter conference series, the AFC North tees off against the NFC West, so the Bengals will host the Los Angeles Rams and the Seattle Seahawks, while going on the road against the San Francisco 49ers and the Arizona Cardinals. They’ll also host the Minnesota Vikings (because both teams won their respective divisions in 2022, didn’t face each other last year and won’t in 2024 either), so the Bengals get an extra home game in their 17 game schedule, an early bonus for Cincinnati. Lastly, they’ll face off against the other two AFC division winners they aren’t slated to face, the Buffalo Bills and the Kansas City Chiefs: that’s the price you pay as one of the premier teams in the league, a tougher schedule year in and year out.
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