The Cincinnati Bengals came out of nowhere last season to make an improbable Super Bowl run that saw the franchise come just short of winning its first championship in team history.

In 2022, the Bengals will be looking to prove that 2022 wasn’t a fluke. That won’t be easy, considering the AFC North is one of the toughest divisions in the NFL. Every team in the AFC North is capable of winning the division.

If Cincinnati is going to repeat as AFC North division champs, there are three specific games on the schedule that I think are extremely important. These three matchups could determine how the Bengals’ 2022 season plays out.

Joe Burrow threw for 525 yards against the Ravens on Sunday, which was the fourth-highest single-game total in NFL history.
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Bengals @ New Orleans Saints (October 16)

I’ve spent so much time hyping this game up this offseason that I have to include it here. This is going to be an emotional matchup as it’ll be the first time that quarterback Joe Burrow has played in Louisiana since leading LSU to a win against Clemson in the national championship game in early 2020. The Bengals are the better team, but beating the Saints in the Superdome is no easy task. This game will provide a Super Bowl-like environment. If the Bengals can win this matchup, it’ll show they have what it takes to win in the most adverse of situations.

Bengals @ Pittsburgh Steelers (November 20)

This should be another fun environment. A Sunday night matchup between two division rivals late in the season? What more could you want as a football fan? The Bengals will be coming off a bye week so it’ll be extremely important that they quickly find their groove in this matchup. I’m not exactly sure what to expect from the Steelers in 2022 (we don’t even know who Pittsburgh’s starting quarterback will be yet). This game could end up being pivotal in the AFC North division race.

Bengals vs Baltimore Ravens (January 7)

The Ravens are likely the biggest threat to the Bengals in the AFC North. This is the last game of the year and it could easily determine the winner of the AFC North. Not only could this game determine playoff seeding, but the winner will also have plenty of momentum entering the playoffs (assuming the winner makes the playoffs).

Featured image via USA TODAY Sports