Heading into 2023, all eyes are on the Cincinnati Bengals as they continue their hottest run in franchise history. While they’ve made the Super Bowl three times, they’ve never sustained this level of success after the fact.
The Bengals have high expectations yet again this year but there are a few storylines to keep an eye on as the season kicks off.
Bengals Storylines for 2023
AFC North Threepeat
Never in the Cincinnati Bengals history has the team won back-to-back-to-back division titles. Even worse, 2022 was the first time Cincinnati won back-to-back titles. Even with another first-place schedule, the Bengals continue to have the best odds with any online casino and it’s for good reason.
Cincinnati’s schedule is full of winnable games. Outside of the division — which is always competitive — Cincinnati will have to face the Chiefs, Bills, and 49ers. Aside from that, they should be able to get through the year mostly unscathed.
According to some analysts, the Bengals strength of schedule is about middle-of-the-road. Of course, the matchups with Kansas City, Buffalo, and San Francisco skew that a bit but they cannot be ignored.
Starting off strong will be key for the Bengals. Each of the team’s first two games are against AFC North foes. Even if there is a possibility for a late-season run, starting off 0-2 as they did last year cannot happen.
Bring Me My Money
There are a few Bengals players who are due for big paydays. In terms of those eligible this year, Joe Burrow and Tee Higgins top the list. Guys like Tyler Boyd, Chidobe Awuzie, D.J. Reader, and even Jonah Williams have likely been working with the front office to get something going.
When it comes to Burrow’s and Higgins’ extensions, “this week is the week” is a common occurrence in Bengals spaces. Honestly, due to the fact that the season is nearly here, everyone just wants peace of mind knowing their favorites are locked down. There have been discussions with both players thus far.
The Bengals already extended Logan Wilson and Trey Hendrickson over the summer, so it’s obvious that they are looking toward the future. Both Burrow and Higgins have been instrumental in the Bengals turnaround. Locking them down (along with Ja’Marr Chase next year) would make sure the team takes advantage of the Super Bowl window.
Joe Burrow MVP Campaign
Speaking of Super Bowl window, it’s wide open for as long as Joseph Lee Burrow is the quarterback.
Realistically, Burrow played MVP-level football over the last two years. Last year, he was fifth in passing yards and second in touchdowns and completion percentage. To this point in his career, he has the highest career completion percentage in NFL history.
However, last year’s stats have a dark cloud hanging over them. In those two early losses, Burrow struggled. He managed 338 yards in Week 1 but threw four interceptions and was sacked seven times. Then against Dallas, he only managed 199 yards, one touchdown, and was sacked six times.
Given, not all 13 sacks are on Burrow but some certainly are. There are plenty within the league who believe sacks are a quarterback stat. It’s not always as black and white as that but Burrow’s playstyle certainly begets sacks. However, for as many sacks as he takes, he makes big plays by extending.
Right now, Burrow is not expected to be MVP because of the Mahomes-sized shadow cast on the NFL. If he is able to cut down on the sacks (a better offensive line would help) and not throw interceptions to defensive linemen, an MVP could be in the star quarterback’s future.
He would trade an MVP for a Super Bowl win every single time but to think it isn’t among the top Bengals storylines would be disingenuous.