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Cincinnati Bengals schedule and 2021 season predictions

The Cincinnati Bengals are hoping for big things in Joe Burrow's second year. Find out how many games they're projected to win in 2021.

Cincinnati Bengals schedule and predictions takeaways:

  • The Bengals face the Minnesota Vikings at home in Week 1 of the NFL season.
  • Their Week 10 bye is set between games against the Cleveland Browns and Las Vegas Raiders (Nov. 7 and Nov. 21).
  • Sportsnaut predicts the Bengals will end the season in last place in the AFC North with a 4-13 record.

The Cincinnati Bengals’ schedule for the 2021 NFL season is officially out, and they have their work cut out to dig out of the AFC North cellar, much less contend for the playoffs.

Drafting wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase to reunite with quarterback Joe Burrow is a feel-good story, but this Cincinnati roster still has lots of holes. Burrow is coming off a major knee injury that cut his rookie year short, too.

Here’s a look at the Bengals’ complete 2021 schedule, and game-by-game predictions as to how they’re likely to fare in the regular season.

Related: Everything you need to know about the 2021 NFL season

Cincinnati Bengals schedule predictions, roster outlook

Let’s take a look at the team’s complete 2021 schedule and make predictions for each game.

Cincinnati Bengals schedule predictions, roster outlook
Apr 29, 2021; Cleveland, Ohio, USA; Ja’Marr Chase (LSU) with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell after being selected by Cincinnati Bengals as the number five overall pick in the first round of the 2021 NFL Draft at First Energy Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Kirby Lee-USA TODAY Sports

Bengals roster outlook

All our predictions are based on the Bengals keeping and starting these key players:

The offensive line in front of Burrow is improved from last season, but that’s an extremely low bar to clear. Burrow has a great trio of receivers to throw to, but given the dire state of Cincinnati’s defense, he’ll need to win a lot of shootouts for the Bengals to even sniff playoff contention.

Cincinnati Bengals 2021 preseason schedule

DateOpponentTime (ET)TV
Saturday, Aug. 14@ Tampa Bay Buccaneers 7:30 PMBengals TV Network
Friday, Aug. 20@ Washington Football Team8:00 PMBengals TV Network
Sunday, Aug. 29vs. Miami Dolphins4:30 PMCBS

This season the NFL is lowering the amount of preseason games to three per team, and instead expanding the regular season to 17 games, rather than the traditional 16 games.

Week 1 – vs. Minnesota Vikings

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 121:00 PMFOX
  • Spread: Vikings -3.5 (via DraftKings)
  • Moneyline: Vikings -180; Bengals +145
  • Over/Under: 48

It should be a close one here. However, Dalvin Cook is just too good of a runner not to go for at least 100 yards in Cincinnati. There’s a good chance garbage time would account for this final score being as tight as it is.

  • Week 1 prediction: Vikings 35, Bengals 31

Week 2 – @ Chicago Bears

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 191:00 PMFOX

There’s no question the Bengals have the better quarterback situation with Burrow, but the Bears have such a stout defense and could well have an X-factor at QB in Justin Fields, unless Burrow’s predecessor, Andy Dalton, starts. Chicago is one of Cincinnati’s better matchups personnel-wise, though, so let’s go with the upset.

  • Week 2 prediction: Bengals 27, Bears 24

Week 3 – @ Pittsburgh Steelers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Sept. 261:00 PMCBS

It’s going to be a down season for Pittsburgh, but its T.J. Watt-led defense can do enough to slow Burrow and Cincinnati’s passing attack down. This may be the one matchup where the Steelers’ offensive line has an advantage over its opponent, which means rookie tailback Najee Harris is in for a big outing.

  • Week 3 prediction: Steelers 24, Bengals 20
Cincinnati Bengals schedule and 2021 season predictions
Oct 4, 2020; Cincinnati, Ohio, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) runs against the Jacksonville Jaguars during the first half at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: David Kohl-USA TODAY Sports

Week 4 – vs. Jacksonville Jaguars (TNF)

DateTime (ET)TV
Thursday, Sept. 308:20 PMNFLN

The past two No. 1 overall picks in Burrow and Trevor Lawrence squaring off! What a fun time. Thing is, these teams weren’t far apart even last season, and it seems pretty obvious that Jacksonville got the far superior upgrades since the 2020 campaign ended. That should show in what happens on the field when these maligned franchises meet.

  • Week 4 prediction: Jaguars 31, Bengals 28

Week 5 – vs. Green Bay Packers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 101:00 PMFOX

You’d be hard-pressed not to pick the Bengals for the sheer value they could get as an underdog. That is, as long as Aaron Rodgers isn’t under center in Green Bay. If the reigning league MVP returns to the Packers, and this is the assumption we’re operating under here, Cincinnati has zero chance to win.

  • Week 5 prediction: Packers 42, Bengals 24

Week 6 – @ Detroit Lions

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 171:00 PMFOX

Despite how much of a rebuild Detroit is in right now, this is a very winnable game for the Lions. They drafted Penei Sewell to shore up their offensive line, and got two interior defenders in Levi Onwuzurike and Alim McNeill capable of manhandling the front protecting Burrow. That should at least keep things close.

  • Week 6 prediction: Bengals 31, Lions 27

Week 7 – @ Baltimore Ravens

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 241:00 PMCBS

The Ravens’ pass rush is going to be thinner because of their free-agent losses, but Lamar Jackson and Co. will still be able to run all over this porous Cincinnati front seven. Burrow is going to be under duress against Baltimore’s exotic, aggressive defense and can only do so much.

  • Week 7 prediction: Ravens 33, Bengals 24

Week 8 – @ New York Jets

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Oct. 311:00 PMCBS

Zach Wilson squaring off with Burrow will make for a fun quarterback duel. Jets pass-rusher Carl Lawson left Cincinnati as a free agent this offseason, so he’ll be eager to wreak havoc. This should be a back-and-forth, high-scoring affair that the hosts ultimately prevail in.

  • Week 8 prediction: Jets 41, Bengals 38

Week 9 – vs. Cleveland Browns

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 71:00 PMCBS

Unless the Bengals catch these star-studded Browns completely napping, they’ll have little hope of beating them in either meeting this season. Cincinnati’s defensive backfield actually matches up quite well with Cleveland’s pass-catchers, but the Browns can run the ball at will, which will help them get the win.

  • Week 9 prediction: Browns 38, Bengals 20

WEEK 10 BYE

Week 11 – @ Las Vegas Raiders

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 214:05 PMCBS

The winning formula for Cincinnati in 2021 will involve scoring a lot of points and hoping a healthy Burrow has the ball in his hands last against non-playoff opponents. This is very much in play when the Bengals travel to Las Vegas. Because the Bengals’ secondary is better than the Silver and Black’s, they get the edge here.

  • Week 11 prediction: Bengals 41, Raiders 34
Cincinnati Bengals schedule and 2021 season predictions
Credit: Kareem Elgazzar via Imagn Content Services, LLC

Week 12 – vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Nov. 281:00 PMCBS

Drafting yet another nose tackle in Tyler Shelvin to pair with DJ Reader made little sense, but against the Steelers, it’d all but guarantee the Bengals could stop the run. A one-dimensional Ben Roethlisberger is not something Pittsburgh wants to see. This has shades of what happened in Week 16, 2020, when Cincy bolted to a 17-0 lead and won 27-17.

  • Week 12 prediction: Bengals 20, Steelers 16

Week 13 – vs. Los Angeles Chargers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 51:00 PMFOX

New Chargers coach Brandon Staley is one of the game’s premier defensive minds. in what could’ve otherwise been a great showdown between 2020 draft QBs Burrow and Justin Herbert instead turns into a blowout in the visitors’ favor.

  • Week 13 prediction: Chargers 38, Bengals 13

Week 14 – vs. San Francisco 49ers

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 121:00 PMCBS

Stopping the run was a nightmare for the Bengals in 2020, and they did little to improve in that area. Imagine what a creative schematic genius in 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan is going to throw at Cincinnati here. It’s not going to be pretty for the home team, that’s for sure.

  • Week 14 prediction: 49ers 27, Bengals 17

Week 15 – @ Denver Broncos

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 194:05 PMCBS

Playing in the altitude is usually a tall task for opponents unfamiliar with the unique elements in the Mile High City. Since Cincinnati’s defense is already lacking playmakers, and the Broncos have the personnel at cornerback to hold up against the Bengals’ loaded receiving corps, Denver should take care of business.

  • Week 15 prediction: Broncos 31, Bengals 17

Week 16 – vs. Baltimore Ravens

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Dec. 261:00 PMCBS

As long as they’re not playing from behind, this Ravens offense travels as well as any in football, because it doesn’t require a high volume of pass attempts to get the job done. Cincinnati is outmatched at the point of attack and has no answers for Baltimore’s elite rushing attack, so playing on home turf won’t really matter.

  • Week 16 prediction: Ravens 31, Bengals 23

Week 17 – vs. Kansas City Chiefs

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Jan. 21:00 PMCBS

Rough. The Chiefs just completely overhauled their offensive line that got overwhelmed in the Super Bowl. That’s bad news for the Bengals’ defensive front. They have no hope of stopping Patrick Mahomes and Co.

  • Week 17 prediction: Chiefs 48, Bengals 26

Week 18 – @ Cleveland Browns

DateTime (ET)TV
Sunday, Jan. 91:00 PMCBS

Burrow lit up the Browns in both meetings last season, but that was before Cleveland massively upgraded its secondary in the offseason and added Jadeveon Clowney in free agency. It’s hard to fathom any scenario in which the Bengals emerge from FirstEnergy Stadium victorious.

  • Week 18 prediction: Browns 45, Bengals 21

Cincinnati Bengals record prediction: 4-13