While the Bengals 2012 season looked tough, especially in the second half of the season, when it was first announced, it ended up not being too terribly awful. Some of the teams that we were dreading watching the Bengals play ended up not being that terrible and the result was a 10-6 season in which the Bengals went to the playoffs as a wildcard team.
The 2013 schedule hasn't been announced yet, but we've known the home and away opponents for some time now. Let's take a look at what the Bengals will be facing.
In 2012, the Bengals played against three top-10 defenses in the regular season (No. 1 Steelers, No. 2 Broncos, No. 9 Chargers) and one in the postseason in the Texans (No. 7). Against those defenses, they finished with a 2-3 record. Like the Bengals' defense, the offense faced three top-10 defenses in 2012 (No. 4 Broncos, No. 5 Redskins, No. 6 Cowboys) and, once again, it's four top-10 defenses if you count the team's playoff game against Houston (No. 7). Against those offenses, the Bengals had a 1-3 record.
While there's no way to predict whether or not a team will carry their top-10 defense or offense from one year into the next, we can reasonably predict what the Bengals will face based on what their future opponents did in the 2012 season. The Bengals will again face four defenses that were ranked in the top-10 in defense this past season when they take on the Steelers twice (No. 1), the Jets (No. 8), the Chargers (No. 9) and the Bears (No. 5).
When it comes to offense, they'll face three top-10 units in 2013. They have to take on the Patriots (No. 1), the Lions (No. 3) and the Colts (No. 10). The Bengals also, of course, will face the Ravens, who are of course playing in Super Bowl XLVII against the 49ers despite the fact that they didn't have a top-10 offense or defense in the regular season.
The Bengals have a combined record of 165-218 against their 2013 opponents, but that isn't necessarily indicative of this Bengals team as it includes overall record through the history of the team. The current Bengals team, as in the one quarterbacked by Andy Dalton, is 8-7 against next year's opponents.
There's really no way of knowing what 2013 has in store for the Bengals until the season is underway, but we can make a few skin-deep predictions based on the team's history.