The Cincinnati Bengals will face Deshaun Watson and the Cleveland Browns twice in 2022, but Cincy’s game plan remains the same: win the AFC North.
On Monday, former federal judge Sue L. Robinson ruled that Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson will be suspended six games for violating the league’s personal conduct policy. The decision comes after a month of deliberation, and the NFL still reserves the right to appeal within three days.
Some reports this summer revealed that the league wanted to slap Watson with an indefinite suspension of at least one year, which would force the Browns to start Jacoby Brissett in 2022.
The Bengals handled the Watson news with an air of nonchalance as pass-rusher Trey Hendrickson told reporters “that handles itself” and “if [Watson] rolls out there we’ll plan accordingly.”
Cincinnati Bengals aren’t worried about playing against Deshaun Watson and the Browns in 2022
Cincinnati will face the Browns in Week 8 and Week 14, so unless the NFL appeals for Watson’s suspension to be extended to at least eight games, Joe Burrow and Deshaun Watson will square off twice this year.
Watson’s 2020 campaign was something to behold, but Watson is two years removed from that performance and likely won’t be the same elite signal-caller he once was.
Burrow, on the other hand, is only trending upward after recording an incredible comeback year in 2021 that saw him lead the Bengals to the Super Bowl. Last season, Burrow threw for 4,611 yards and 34 touchdowns with a 70.4 pass completion rate, numbers eerily similar to those of Watson in 2020.
Yet Burrow has quite a few other advantages over the controversial Browns QB. For one, he has already generated scintillating chemistry with his wide receiver corps, and he also gets a boost from a retooled offensive line in 2022.
Defense could be the deciding factor in this division rivalry, and it seems Trey Hendrickson and others are prepared to take Watson down when the time comes.
As far as the Bengals are concerned, the Watson news appears as only a small blip on Cincinnati’s radar — the team has bigger fish to fry in the 2022 season.