The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2-14 in 2019, but there are newfound reasons for optimism within the franchise with the arrival of Joe Burrow.
The Bengals took the Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback from LSU, and Burrow's Southeast Ohio roots will increase ticket sales in Cincinnati. The Bengals also were big spenders in free agency, and that should increase the win total in coach Zac Taylor's second season.
The Bengals have a last-place schedule that features the AFC South and NFC East. The AFC North challenges stay the same.
Here is a complete breakdown of the Cincinnati Bengals’ 2020 schedule, including dates and start times for all 16 games and our early prediction.
Cincinnati Bengals schedule 2020
(For Canadian viewers, each game can be streamed on DAZN.)
The Bengals have seven games against teams that won six games or fewer last season, and Burrow will face two other first-round quarterbacks if they start: the Dolphins' Tua Tagovailoa and the Chargers' Justin Herbert.
Bengals strength of schedule & prediction
Cincinnati's opponents had a combined record of 122-134 last season — a winning percentage of .477. That gives the Bengals the sixth-easiest schedule by record, and the home schedule is favorable.
Of course, the Bengals have to take advantage of that. They are 10-14 at home the last three seasons — the sixth-worst mark in the NFL in that stretch.
Toughest tests: Cincinnati faces four teams with a record of .500 or better on the road in 2020. Baltimore and Pittsburgh are the standard AFC North challenges, but trips to Houston and Philadelphia won't be easy for a first-time starter.
Dallas will be the marquee game on the home schedule, and that will be the return of longtime quarterback Andy Dalton.
Biggest breaks: Of the five home non-divisional games, Tennessee is the only team that had a winning record last season. Cincinnati also does not have to travel to the West Coast to face the Chargers.
The Jaguars, Cowboys, Chargers and Giants combined for a 11-21 record on the road last season. That's a four-game stretch the Bengals can take advantage of.
Bottom line: The schedule is easier, but the challenges in the AFC North remain the same. Cincinnati has slipped down the pecking order in the division because of a 5-13 record in those games the last three seasons.
Baltimore remains the team to beat, and Pittsburgh and Cleveland made improvements in the offseason. Burrow is the third Heisman Trophy-winning quarterback in the division along with Baltimore's Lamar Jackson and Cleveland's Baker Mayfield. Will Burrow provide the same lift for his franchise as the other two?
Look for Cincinnati to enjoy a bump in the win total, but it's going to be tough to get out of the basement in the division.
Record prediction: 6-10