Clark Judge of CBS Sports lists the Bengals as one of five teams that should get off to a fast start. The Bengals start with the division rival Baltimore Ravens, but follow it with five seemingly easy opponents--Cleveland, Washington, Jacksonville, Miami, and Cleveland again.
The lowdown: The Bengals start by facing the heavy artillery, but look what happens after Baltimore: They don't play an opponent with a winning record in 2011 over the next five weeks. Even better, they take on teams that were a combined 24-56 a year ago, including Cleveland twice. The bad news is that four of their first six starts are on the road, but look at the upside, Bengals' fans: Your team does no worse than 4-2 and could lap the field. Me? I see Cincinnati 5-1 after six weeks, which should put it at or near the top of its division by mid-October.
5-1 is certainly the best case scenario, but it's not entirely out of the question. Then again, neither is 1-5. Who knows with the Bengals.
On paper the schedule opens easy in 2012, but if any team knows not to overlook opponents, it should be the Cincinnati Bengals. How many teams last year looked at their schedules and said, "Oh, great. We got the Bengals this week"? All of them probably. Teams can be surprising, and luckily, the Bengals were just that in 2011.