Cover Image via Cincinnati Bengals
Written by: Christian Jenkins
With the 2023-24 NFL season just a week away now, let’s take a look into what this season holds for the Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals are coming off of a 12-4 season last year, where they reached the AFC Championship for the 2nd year in a row, losing to the Kansas City Chiefs who went on to win Super Bowl LVII. While the Bengals lost a few solid guys this off-season: Vonn Bell (S), Hayden Hurst (TE), Eli Apple (CB), Samaje Perine (RB), and most notably star safety Jessie Bates III. They also signed and drafted quite a few guys such as Myles Murphy (DE), Jordan Battle (S), DJ Turner (CB), Chase Brown (RB), Irv Smith Jr (TE) and the list goes on, that should help to fill in the gaps.
Cincinnati who has also struggled big time with their offensive line ever since Joe Burrow came in and took over, decided to make a big move this off season and pickup star offensive tackle Orlando Brown from the Chiefs. They were also able to keep both Joe Mixon, who restructured his contract and Tee Higgins, who a lot of people had speculations about whether those 2 would remain in Cincinnati.
Per PFF: The Bengals off season grade was rated an A. Entering into the season the two biggest questions about this Bengals team are how their secondary will hold up after losing their star Bates and whether or not their Quarterback Joe Burrow will be ready to play. Burrow who is entering his fourth season is viewed a top 3 quarterback in the NFL by many, sustained a calf injury to his right leg during the second practice of training camp on July 27th. There was no official return timeline offered but more so an estimate of “several weeks”. Just this past Wednesday (Aug. 30th) Burrow returned to practice and was said to be looking “good” and that the Bengals are optimistic of a week 1 start against the Cleveland Browns.
Another guy who is a major part of the Bengals squad: Ja’Marr Chase, looks to be the best receiver in football this year after having what seemed like a “down year” last year. Keep in mind Chase did miss 5 weeks at the end of the regular season from a hip and shoulder injury and he still finished with over 1000 yards and 9 tds. Chase certainly has the skillset as we have seen him shred through defenses time after time. The two former LSU teammates (Burrow & Chase) have excellent chemistry and that helps to propel the Bengals to the top.
Now as far as record goes, I have the Bengals finishing 13-4 with losses to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Kansas City and Cleveland. The AFC North is the best division in football so it will be hard for the Bengals to take both games against any of their division rivals. With an increasingly better AFC Conference with loaded teams and talented superstars, the Bengals look to be right back in the AFC Championship game for a third time in a row. To conclude, if the Bengals ever want a shot at winning a Superbowl their window isn’t that large, and they will need to capitalize on the star-studded roster they have currently to get the job done.