Last week, we broke down the first half of the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals schedule. This year, the Bengals off-week is during week nine, splitting the season into two, eight-game chunks. Perfectly balanced, as all things should be. At this point, it is possible that the Bengals could be at least .500. The second half of the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals schedule has a handful of winnable games with three divisional matchups.
2020 Cincinnati Bengals Schedule: Who Dey Gonna Beat? (Part 2)
Week 10: at Pittsburgh Steelers
En route to their 2-14 record in 2019, the Bengals were swept by the underachieving, injury-ridden Steelers. Thankfully, 2020 rolls around and the team has two weeks to prepare for the divisional rival. On offense, the Steelers will once again tote out quarterback Ben Roethlisberger for his 17th season. Good thing for him and Pittsburgh, their weapons could make up for any injury or age regression. JuJu Smith-Shuster, James Washington, and Dionte Johnson have made a formidable trio. Add in Chase Claypool, free-agent tight end Eric Ebron, and running back James Conner, the Steelers will be just fine.
On defense, the Steelers have plenty of talent. T.J. Watt is the leader of a linebacker corps with Bud Dupree and 2019 first-rounder Devin Bush. On the line, Cameron Heyward is still going strong alongside Stephon Tuitt and Chris Wormley. The secondary wasn’t too bad in 2019, as they held opponents to under 200 yards passing 11 times. The acquisition of Minkah Fitzpatrick certainly had something to do with this. This game can be a win, but the Steelers have won ten straight matchups and is 13-1 in the last seven years. Since 2010, the Bengals are 2-8 in Pittsburgh and are currently experiencing a three-game losing streak.
Week 11: at Washington Redskins
There was a significant number of fans in 2019 who wanted Cincinnati to draft current Washington quarterback Dwayne Haskins. It didn’t happen, obviously, and it is fair to say Haskins struggled in his first year in DC. It should be noted, however, that former head coach Jay Gruden did not want Haskins and that was probably why it took forever for the team to start him. However, his favorite target is fellow former-Buckeye, Terry McLaurin. This offense has plenty of questions. Will Derrius Guice stay healthy and take over for Adrian Peterson? Can Tracy Sprinkle step into the role of number one tight end?
The defense is a problem. Chase Young. Montez Sweat. Da’Ron Payne. Ryan Kerrigan. Jonathan Allen. All five are former first-rounders. All five play up front and will likely terrorize a less-than-stellar Bengals offensive line. The secondary is also pretty solid with Landon Collins and Kendall Fuller. If they can game plan against that defensive front, this could be a win on the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals schedule.
Week 12: vs New York Giants
The second NFC East foe will be the second team the Bengals face off of a bye (Tennessee Titans in week eight). Pair the extra preparation with the fact Saquon Barkley has shown that he’s (at worst) a top two running back in the league, this could be a tough matchup. Quarterback Daniel Jones flashed in his rookie year. Considering the recent trend of second-year quarterbacks and their success, can we expect him to ride Sterling Shepard and Golden Tate to stardom like Patrick Mahomes and Lamar Jackson? Probably not, but it is not unreasonable to expect progress.
The defense is probably the weakness of this team. In 2019, the Giants gave up the fifth-most passing yards. They did draft Xavier McKinney, but one safety is not going to turn a unit around. It will be interesting to see if Dexter Lawrence can improve and be a force opposite Leonard Williams. Ultimately, this could also be a win for the Bengals. Unless that pass defense drastically improves, look for Joe Burrow, A.J. Green, and company to light up the weakest pass defense on the schedule.
Week 13: at Miami Dolphins
Last year, the Bengals vs Dolphins “Tank Bowl” was an overtime thriller where Andy Dalton did his darndest to win since he wasn’t exactly cool with the Bengals tanking for his replacement. This year, each of the teams’ efforts come to fruition. The Dolphins effectively “Tanked For Tua” and the Bengals “Bungled For Burrow.” Tua Tagovailoa will likely be the starter by this point and he has plenty of help. DeVante Parker is a great receiver and Mike Gesicki has all the tools of a great tight end. The running game will be a question mark, however. Jordan Howard is a good back in his own right, but there was a reason the Dolphins made a draft-day trade for Matt Breida.
On defense, Miami has to progress. In 2019, they allowed the seventh-most passing yards and sixth-most rushing yards. However, Miami did make strides to improve by signing Shaq Lawson and Kyle Van Noy. Raekwon McMillan has really begun to grow into a solid linebacker. Miami, it seems, has begun to rebuild and turn into a promising, young team. This game could get flexed to Sunday Night Football just because Burrow vs Tua would be exciting. Of all of the opponents on the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals schedule, this could be another win.
Week 14: vs Dallas Cowboys
This offseason, the Bengals released Dalton and he subsequently signed with the Cowboys. Unfortunately for him, it is most likely in a back-up capacity, at best. To be fair, Dak Prescott has established himself. However, if he does not succeed with this roster, there will be issues. Amari Cooper and Michael Gallup were good last year and should be better with newly-drafted CeeDee Lamb. Ezekiel Elliott is still a legit running back. The question mark will be Blake Jarwin at tight end. He’s shown that he can make plays, but he’s still unproven.
The strength of the Cowboys’ defense is the linebacker corps with Jaylon Smith, Leighton Vander Esch, and Sean Lee. Each has shown that they can play. Their question will be can everyone remain healthy? Realistically, we can chalk this up as a loss for the Bengals. Prescott and that offense will be too much for the Bengals.
Week 15: vs Pittsburgh Steelers (Monday)
As a Bengals fan, why does the NFL love to schedule a Bengals-Steelers game in Primetime? Sigh. Well, for the second time in five weeks, the Bengals will take on their divisional rival. Hopefully, this game will be interesting and meaningful for Cincinnati. A victory over the Steelers feels like Christmas in Cincinnati no matter when it happens. If Cincy can pull this off, it would be a beautiful early Christmas present.
Week 16: at Houston Texans
Since joining the NFL, the Texans have an 8-4 record against the Bengals. That includes an 8-1 mark since 2008 and has featured some serious snooze-fests of games. Thankfully for the Bengals’ defense, Bill O’Brien is a crazy man who traded away DeAndre Hopkins. That receiving corps is still decent with Brandin Cooks, Will Fuller, and Randall Cobb, right? David Johnson will be the running back after being included in that bonkers trade, but will be able to stay healthy? Either way, Deshaun Watson is the truth. If he can overcome O’Brien, there’s nothing he can’t do.
J.J. Watt may not be the best version of himself, but he’s still a stud. Factor in Zach Cunningham, Whitney Mercilus, Bradley Roby, and Benardrick McKinney, the Texans defense will be solid once again. Considering the past few matchups have been low-scoring and boring, so one can only hope Burrow, Joe Mixon, and the Bengals’ offense can get something going.
Week 17: vs Baltimore Ravens
Pros of facing the Ravens in week 17: they will likely be resting starters for the playoffs.
Cons of facing the Ravens in week 17: the new playoff system only has one team with a bye, so teams will have to play every game like it matters.
Either way, Lamar Jackson is the reigning MVP of the league and his 14-2 team only got better through the offseason and draft. By this time, J.K. Dobbins could have established himself as the top running back. As of now, the Bengals have lost three straight to Baltimore, topped off by a 49-13 absolute beat-down in week 10 of 2019. Almost any performance against one of the two best teams in the AFC would be better.
Playoffs? You Wanna Talk About Playoffs?
Can the Bengals make playoffs? Well, maybe. Burrow would have to have a Rookie Of The Year-type year and the defense will have to be massively improved. These Bengals could struggle and end up with five wins. However, the talent is there. This will be Zac Taylor‘s first full offseason and if the active free agency is any indication, Cincinnati is in for a fun year. However, nine wins might be the ceiling for 2020. Win, lose, or draw, the 2020 Cincinnati Bengals schedule is full of competitive matchups and would be a very welcome sight. WHO DEY!
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