GREEN BAY, WI - DECEMBER 11: Carson Palmer #3 of the Oakland Raiders drops back to pass during the game against the Green Bay Packers at Lambeau Field on December 11, 2011 in Green Bay, Wisconsin. (Photo by Scott Boehm/Getty Images)
Even though the Cincinnati Bengals are going to the playoffs, they've did it by placing third in the division. Not that it's any small feat, considering the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers finished 12-4 respectively, battling each other for the second seed and first round bye. On the bright side, there is a benefit. With the regular season coming to an end on Sunday, Cincinnati's opponents for next season are now known and the league released where those games will be played.
The AFC North will face the NFC East and the AFC West next season, as part of the league's rotation (this year the Bengals played the AFC South and the NFC West). The primary difference between the Bengals and the other teams in the AFC North is that while the Ravens and Steelers play teams that finished first and second respectively in the AFC East and AFC South, the Bengals will play the Miami Dolphins and the Jacksonville Jaguars.
Of Cincinnati's 13 opponents next season, four are heading into the playoffs this year.
The Bengals will host the Denver Broncos and Dallas Cowboys, along with the much anticipated Carson Palmer return to Cincinnati with the Oakland Raiders visiting. Cincinnati's home schedule rounds out with the New York Giants and Miami Dolphins. The Bengals will play on the road against the Chiefs, Chargers, Eagles, Redskins and Jaguars.