The Cincinnati Bengals will go from being the hunters to the hunted in the 2022 NFL season. After coming up just short in Super Bowl LVI, the Bengals have become one of the trendiest teams in football. While on paper Cincinnati has improved in the offseason, oddsmakers aren’t sold on the team just yet.

BetMGM sets the Bengals’ regular season win total at 9.5 with the over (-120) as the slight favorite. It’s a reasonable assessment considering the team is coming off a 10-7 season in 2021.

Along with win totals, BetMGM also lists each team’s odds to make the playoffs. As it pertains to the Bengals’ playoff chances, the sportsbook is leaning towards Yes (-120). It is surprising to see these rather pedestrian odds considering how the Bengals finished last season, as well as how they addressed the one glaring weakness from last year’s roster.

The health of QB Joe Burrow is the driving factor to Cincinnati’s success. After tearing his ACL in his rookie season, Burrow was the most sacked quarterback in the league in 2021. He finishing the regular season having been sacked 51 times in 16 games.

As if that wasn’t enough, the offensive line gave up 19 sacks in the team’s four playoff games. Had the Los Angeles Rams not sacked Burrow seven times in the Super Bowl, the outcome might not have been the same.

That being said, the Bengals shored up its protection issues with two massive deals in free agency. Cincinnati inked former Cowboys OT La’el Collins along with Super Bowl champion OG Alex Cappa, who comes over from Tampa Bay despite Tom Brady’s attempt to keep him with the Buccaneers.

In a league with an emphasis on offense, the Bengals are in a position to improve upon last year’s performance. Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd are all returning at the receiver position.

TE C.J. Uzomah was the offense’s biggest departure, but Cincinnati is attempting to replace his production at tight end with the addition of former first-round pick Hayden Hurst.

The Bengals kept most of their defense intact by re-signing CB Eli Apple and using the franchise tag on S Jessie Bates, although trade rumors continue to circulate involving the latter. Cincinnati also retains most of the key cogs to what was one of the NFL’s top rush defenses a year ago.

In a league where continuity is critical to team success, the Bengals have every piece in place in order to not only return to the playoffs, but to make some noise in late January once again.

Featured image via Kareem Elgazzar/USA TODAY NETWORK