The expectation for the Cincinnati Bengals in 2022 is to get back to the Super Bowl.

Anything less than a Super Bowl appearance will be a bit of a disappointment after the Bengals greatly improved their roster this offseason.

Of course, getting back to the Super Bowl won’t be an easy task. There are a lot of solid teams in the AFC that have a legitimate chance to reach the Super Bowl this upcoming season. There will be several really, really good teams watching the Super Bowl from home next season.

The Bengals’ goal in the regular season will be to earn the No. 1 overall seed in the AFC. That would obviously make their path to the Super Bowl much easier in the playoffs.

Getting that No. 1 seed, however, could be problematic. That’s because Cincinnati, according to NFL.com, has the third toughest schedule in the NFL in 2022.

Only the NFC’s Arizona Cardinals and Los Angeles Rams have a tougher schedule than the Bengals (meaning Cincy has the toughest schedule in the AFC next season).

Bengals
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) fakes a halo off to Joe Mixon in the second quarter of the NFL Week 16 game between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Baltimore Ravens at Paul Brown Stadium in downtown Cincinnati on Sunday, Dec. 26, 2021. The Bengals led 31-14 at halftime.
Baltimore Ravens At Cincinnati Bengals Week 16

The Bengals have their usual tough divisional road games against the Baltimore Ravens, Cleveland Browns, and Pittsburgh Steelers. They also play the Dallas Cowboys, New England Patriots, New Orleans Saints, Tampa Bay Buccaneers, and Tennessee Titans on the road.

Cincinnati has several extremely tough home games as well — they host the Kansas City Chiefs and Buffalo Bills.

Additionally, a home game against the revamped Miami Dolphins could be a tough matchup.

The Bengals are going to lose a couple of tough games. And they may not end up with the No. 1 seed in the AFC because of their difficult schedule. But this is a team that will be battle-tested when it comes playoff time. And ultimately, I think this schedule makes the Bengals a bigger threat to win the Super Bowl next season.

Featured image via Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY NETWORK