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ESPN's NFL Nation sees Bengals as playoff-bound, 13-win team

CINCINNATI -- In the days since the NFL released the 2016 schedule, there has been wide outcry on social media from multiple fan bases that believe their team got a raw deal in the construction of the schedule.

The Cincinnati Bengals' fan base is one of them.

But as challenging as the Bengals' first six games may appear to be, and as disappointing as it may be to some Bengals fans that their team will be without linebacker Vontaze Burfict for the first game against the Pittsburgh Steelers, there are still reasons to be optimistic about the direction of the year.

In our game-by-game predictions of the schedule last Thursday night I picked Cincinnati to go 11-5. This still looks like a playoff team to me. Besides, last year's schedule was arguably tougher and the Bengals still tied a franchise record with 12 wins.

Apparently my colleagues here at ESPN's NFL Nation agree with me, and think the Bengals will be good. After rounding up the various predictions posted last week by other ESPN team reporters, it seems there's great optimism in the Bengals outside of Cincinnati. Forget 11-5. Maybe 13-3 is the way the Bengals go:

Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 11 at New York Jets, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Rich Cimini's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 1-0


Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 18 at Pittsburgh Steelers, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals loss

Jeremy Fowler's pick: Bengals loss

NFL Nation record: 1-1


Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 25 vs. Denver Broncos, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Jeff Legwold's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 2-1


Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 29 vs. Miami Dolphins, 8:25 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

James Walker's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 3-1


Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 9 at Dallas Cowboys, 4:25 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Todd Archer's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 4-1


Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 16 at New England Patriots, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals loss

Mike Reiss' pick: Bengals loss

NFL Nation record: 4-2


Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 23 vs. Cleveland Browns, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Pat McManamon's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 5-2


Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 30 vs. Washington Redskins (in London), 9:30 a.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

John Keim's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 6-2


Week 9: Bye week


Week 10: Monday, Nov. 14 at New York Giants, 8:30 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Dan Graziano's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 7-2


Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 20 vs. Buffalo Bills, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Mike Rodak's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 8-2


Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 27 at Baltimore Ravens, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals loss

Jamison Hensley's pick: Bengals loss

NFL Nation record: 8-3


Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 4 vs. Philadelphia Eagles, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Phil Sheridan's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 9-3


Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 11 at Cleveland, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

McManamon's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 10-3


Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 18 vs. Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals loss

Fowler's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 11-3


Week 16: Saturday, Dec. 24 at Houston Texans, 8:25 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals loss

Mike Wells' pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 12-3


Week 17: Sunday, Jan. 1 vs. Baltimore, 1 p.m. ET

My pick: Bengals win

Hensley's pick: Bengals win

NFL Nation record: 13-3