4 bold predictions for the 2022 NFL season

As the 2022 NFL season gets ready to begin, one team to remember is one of last season’s Super Bowl finalists, the Cincinnati Bengals. Can they have another magic race in 2022? To answer that, here are some bold 2022 Bengals predictions for the 2022 NFL season.

Mentioning the AFC champion and the Cincinnati Bengals in one sentence is still a strange concept for many football fans. And yet here we are with the Bengals hoping to return to the Super Bowl and the experts always bet against them.

They have all the ingredients, but not the right branding or story. Cincinnati has a young star quarterback combination with a quality supporting cast and some Super Bowl experience under their belts. But then again, it’s the Bengals. They can’t be struck by lightning twice, can they?

That’s how the general NFL market currently sees Joe Burrow, Ja’Marr Chase and the rest of the Cincinnati Bengals as they prepare for a season with higher expectations than ever. Yes, they will be good, but they won’t be so good anymore.

Is there any truth in that? Let’s see. Here are four bold predictions for the Cincinnati Bengals in the 2022 NFL season.

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4. Logan Wilson Picking Machine

Third-year linebacker Logan Wilson has a knack for being in the right place at the right time. During his 2020 rookie season, Wilson appeared in 12 games (two starts) and had two interceptions. He was limited to 13 games (all starts) last season, but he landed four more INTs.

Wilson is a good defender against running backs and tight ends. This is in addition to being particularly excellent for disguising yourself behind the trenches and appearing out of nowhere on crossing roads. Wilson also has seven pass breakups in 25 games (15 starts).

Wilson has certainly improved from Year 1 to Year 2, and further improvement is expected for his third season. He’ll play hide and seek with the ball, as he often does, and he should intercept at least seven QB pitches this season. That means he’ll be on course for the most interceptions by a linebacker since Philadelphia’s William Thomas had seven in 1995.

3. Joe Mixon rushes for 20+ touchdowns

Any Bengals fan would tell you that Joe Mixon’s ability to stay healthy is extremely crucial. Until last season, Mixon’s previous record for combined rushing and receiving touchdowns was just nine. He remained healthy in 2021, however. As a result, in 16 games, he had 16 touchdowns, 1,519 scrimmage yards and a Pro Bowl selection.

It’s no secret that head coach Zac Taylor likes to throw the ball, but the Bengals have a tendency to try to smash it once they’re within 10 yards. Also note that they improved the offensive line. In fact, the offense as a whole should inflict significant damage.

As such, Mixon will be more than just a red zone hazard. The stronger blocking up front should help him break huge runs and get the money in the bank, so to speak.

2. Joe Burrow passes 5,000 yards

Only nine players in history have thrown for more than 5,000 yards in a single season. With an additional game added to the schedule from 2021, it’s reasonable to predict that more QBs will hit that threshold in the future. Yet even in a 17-game schedule, a quarterback needs to average more than 294 yards per game to hit that mark. There are only a few callers with the necessary weapons, and Burrow may have the biggest chance. It also has a talented playing corps that is the envy of most NFL organizations.

Last season, “Joe Cool” threw for 4,611 yards while missing the final regular season game. He accomplished this after recovering from a grueling injury in which he tore his ACL and MCL. He was less mobile to start the season and struggled to escape the pressure to make plays.

Not only that, but he was dealing with an offensive line that gave up a league-high 51 sacks during the regular season. The Bengals resolved numerous offensive line issues throughout the summer, and Burrow no longer wears a knee pad. If he stays healthy and starts all 17 games this season, he could break Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 5,477 yards.

1. Bengals finish second in AFC North

The Bengals’ unexpected Super Bowl appearance last season resulted in the biggest increase in recommended win total. Theirs has gone from a forecast of 6.5 wins before last season to a median estimate of 10 wins heading into this season. Still, the hyper-competitive AFC playoff-centric markets aren’t ready to give Cincinnati as much credit as you might think. That’s even for a team that returns with every major player on their Super Bowl roster.

Of course, Burrow continues where he left off last season, becoming the third Bengals quarterback (after Boomer Esiason and Ken Anderson) to win the NFL MVP award. The AFC’s road to the Super Bowl is through Cincinnati, also thanks to strong defense.

Still, last year’s 21-game record could lead to injuries on both sides of the ball in 2022. It could also lead to regular shootouts between Cincinnati and their opponents. Surely Burrow has enough firepower to keep the Bengals in the playoff bracket, but the team might also have to fight for its playoff life in season-ending home games against Buffalo and Baltimore.

Speaking of Baltimore, the Ravens are back and healthy. They are expected to lead the AFC North, with the Bengals following closely at No. 2.

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