The defending AFC champion Cincinnati Bengals attacked the 2022 offseason immediately, adding strength to their much-beleaguered offensive line. They also addressed a vacant tight end position in free agency and re-signed nearly a dozen of their own. Head coach Zac Taylor got an extension and the franchise tag was deployed on safety Jessie Bates. It was fervent offseason for the team, resulting in a lot of positives. With the kickoff of the Bengals’ season just over 80 days away, it’s time to make a few bold predictions for 2022-23.
Make sure to check out all of our other NFL Bold Predictions.
Joe Burrow Joins the 5K Club
Nine players in history have passed for over 5,000 yards in a season. With an additional game added to the schedule in 2021, it can be expected that there will be more on the way. That doesn’t lessen the feat, however. Even on a 17-game slate, a quarterback must average over 294 yards per game to achieve that total. There are a handful of signal-callers with the weapons to accomplish it, and Burrow may have the best chance. The skill players at his disposal are the envy of most franchises in the NFL.
Last season, “Joey Franchise” tossed for 4,611 yards while also sitting out the final game of the regular season. He did this while returning from a gruesome injury in which he tore both his ACL and MCL. He was less mobile to start the season and had a hard time escaping pressure to make plays. Not only that, he was standing behind an offensive line that allowed a league-high 51 regular season sacks. The Bengals addressed a lot of offensive line concerns in the offseason, and Burrow is now playing without a knee brace. If he starts all 17 games, he could threaten Peyton Manning’s NFL record of 5,477 yards.
Sample/Ossai Out-Sack Trey Hendrickson
Consider what it would mean for this defense if this came true. Joseph Ossai and Cam Sample were both explosive players in college, and both have been tabbed as potential breakout candidates in the Queen City this season. In very limited action last season, Sample hit the quarterback five times, logging 1.5 sacks. Ossai’s 2021 was derailed by a meniscus injury during the preseason. Thanks to his performance last year, Hendrickson (14 sacks, a career-high) can expect extra help to be standing in front of him. Ossai and Sample are part of the rotation and will take advantage of one-on-one matchups with fresh legs when Hendrickson or Sam Hubbard are on the sideline.
Joe Mixon Finds Paydirt Over 20 Times
Any fan in Cincinnati will tell you that this solely depends on the ability of the Bengals running back to stay healthy. Mixon’s previous high in combined rushing and receiving touchdowns was nine until last season. Stay healthy he did, and in 16 games he racked up 16 total touchdowns to go with his 1,519 yards from scrimmage and a Pro Bowl nod.
It’s no secret that coach Taylor loves to throw the ball, but the Bengals have demonstrated a propensity for trying to ram it in once they are within five to 10 yards. With the offensive line improved and the offense as a whole expected to do serious damage, the soon-to-be 26-year-old will not only be a red zone threat, the blocking up front should assist him in breaking off some big runs to the house.
Logan Wilson Nabs Seven Picks
The third-year linebacker for the Orange-and-Black has shown a tremendous knack for being in the right place at the right time. He played in 12 games (two starts) during his rookie season of 2020, hauling in two interceptions. Last season, he was limited to 13 games (all starts) played but snatched four more. Aside from being extremely adept at masking himself behind the trenches and coming out of nowhere on crossing routes, he is also a capable defender on running backs and tight ends. Wilson has seven passes defensed in 25 games (15 starts).
The Wyoming product grew from year one to year two, and more growth can be expected entering his third season. He’ll play hide-and-seek-the-ball as he often does, and pull in seven quarterback throws en route to logging the most picks by a linebacker since Philadelphia’s William Thomas had seven in 1995.
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