2017 Cincinnati Bengals game-by-game predictions

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off one of their worst seasons in years, finishing 6-9-1 in 2016. However, they get a home season opener for the first time since 2009, and a favorable early schedule before their Week 6 bye. Road trips to the Packers and Broncos are going to be tough, as well as a Monday night game against the Steelers. While the Bengals went through some changes in the offseason, the schedule seems easier this year, which could set them up to bounce back.

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 10, vs. Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals finally get to open at home for the first time in 2009. If the Bengals can make their reconfigured offensive line work, and have all of their players back healthy, they can get off to a quick start here. Record: 1-0

Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 14, vs. Houston Texans, 8:25 p.m. ET

The Bengals lost to Houston last season after missing a last-minute field goal on Christmas Eve, but the Texans have plenty of problems of their own, including the search for a quarterback. Record: 2-0

Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 24 at Green Bay Packers, 4:25 p.m. ET

The Bengals take their first loss of the year against one of the best teams in the league. Lambeau Field is a tough place to play, and it won't be easy to face Aaron Rodgers and Co. there. Record: 2-1

Week 4: Sunday, Oct. 1 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Browns have played the Bengals close lately, and Cleveland coach Hue Jackson knows them better than anyone. But they're still rebuilding and have no quarterback. They don't get the best of the Bengals in this spot. Record: 3-1

Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 8 vs Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals close out their last game before the bye with some revenge against the Bills. Buffalo barely squeaked by after the Bengals lost A.J. Green on the first play of the game. After firing Rex Ryan, the Bills are an unknown team in 2017, but not necessarily a better one. Record: 4-1

Week 6: BYE

Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 22 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals are going to have to prove that they can overcome their recent woes against the Steelers. This might not be the year. The Steelers have their core cast back, and it doesn't look like they're going to take a step back in 2017. Record: 4-2

Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 29 vs Indianapolis Colts, 1 p.m. ET

It's hard to tell what kind of team the Colts will be after an 8-8 season last year, but if they haven't rebounded, this could be a winnable game at home. This certainly won't be an easy one, but the Bengals are capable of winning here to get to 5-2. Record: 5-2

Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 5 at Jacksonville Jaguars, 1 p.m. ET

This is the start of a brutal stretch on the road for Cincinnati, but probably the easiest game of the three. The Bengals have gone through some growing pains, but they're still in a better position than the Jaguars, who haven't found a way to win despite a talented roster. That doesn't change here. Record: 6-2

Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 12 at Tennessee Titans, 1 p.m. ET

The Titans are an improving team that didn't lose a home game in the second half of the season last year. They seem to be on the upswing, and they get the better of the Bengals here. Record: 6-3

Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 19 at Denver Broncos, 4:25 p.m. ET

If the Bengals can't find a way to improve their offensive line, they're going to have problems against the Broncos, who have one of the best pass-rushers in the league in Von Miller. The Bengals have never won at Denver and they won't win this year, either. Record: 6-4

Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 26 at Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals sweep the Browns again this year, with Cleveland needing a few more years to become contenders. The Browns could improve under Jackson, but they won't beat Cincinnati quite yet. Record: 7-4

Week 13: Monday, Dec. 4 vs Pittsburgh Steelers 8:30 p.m. ET

The Bengals haven't been at their best in prime time lately, and the Steelers are always one of the toughest opponents on the schedule. The Bengals didn't make sweeping improvements in the offseason, and lost two of their best players. They might not have made enough improvements to get past the Steelers this year and lose both games for the second straight season. Record: 7-5

Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 10 vs Chicago Bears, 1 p.m. ET

The Bears are a mess right now and on the hunt for a quarterback after releasing Jay Cutler. The Bengals can take advantage of a struggling team at home, and should be able to get the better of Chicago here. Record: 8-5

Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 17 at Minnesota Vikings, 1 p.m. ET

The Bengals will travel to U.S. Bank Stadium for the first time to face their old defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer. Longtime running back Adrian Peterson is no longer a Viking, and it's not yet known if quarterback Teddy Bridgewater will be back. The Vikings' defense will win this one though, as the Bengals fall to 8-6. Record: 8-6

Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 24 vs Detroit Lions, 1 p.m. ET

This is a winnable game, but not an easy one. The Lions will likely be a playoff contender again this year, so this could be one of the toughest games on the Bengals' schedule. The Bengals get the slight nod here by virtue of being at home as they play on Christmas Eve for the second straight year. Record: 9-6

Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 31 at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET

With the Bengals sweeping the Browns and being swept by the Steelers, it's doubtful they don't at least split one series. That one will go to the Ravens, with the Bengals and Ravens both winning at home. If the AFC North is anything like last year, this one could have playoff implications. Record: 9-7