The 2005 and the 2009 Bengals have something in common more than the fact that they won the AFC North division and hosted a playoff game and lost that playoff game. Each of those teams played against the NFC North division and each of those teams completely dominated them on their way to an 11-5 record and 10-6 record respectively.
The 2013 Bengals are set to face the NFC North once again. The NFC North, consisting of the Bears, Vikings, Packer and Lions, are one of the better divisions in the league as three of the four teams were vying for spots in the playoffs as all the teams other than the Lions finished with a 10-6 or better record.
In 2005, Carson Palmer and the high-powered Bengals offense went 4-0 against the NFC North and in 2009, they went 3-1, losing their only game to the division against the Vikings.
The Bengals, of course, are a completely different team now. They are led by Andy Dalton and many of the players on those AFC North champion teams are no longer with the Bengals. However, the Bengals have gone to the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, finishing with a 9-7 record in 2011 and a 10-6 record in 2012. They have still not won a playoff game, though.
The Bears, Vikings, Lions and Packers are different too. The Bears have a high-powered offense led by players like Jay Cutler, Brandon Marshall and Matt Forte. The Packers are led by Aaron Rodgers and are just two seasons removed from a Super Bowl win. The Lions have made one of the biggest transformations, as they are now led by Matthew Stafford and Calvin Johnson and even though they struggled through 2012, they have one of the best offenses in the league. Finally the Vikings are anchored by their tough defense and running back Adrian Peterson's amazing play. They'll be hosting the Packers and Vikings while they'll play the Bears in Chicago and the Lions in Detroit.
If the 2013 Bengals are to win the division by sweeping through the NFC North, they'll have to play extremely well and eliminate many of the weaknesses in their game, both on offense and defense. Dominating a division as tough as the NFC North would basically guarantee that the Bengals would dominate the majority of their competition throughout the season and likely lead to a home playoff game. However, if they struggle to get things going in 2013, the NFC North would likely do all the dominating.
There's no question that the 2013 schedule is tougher than the 2012 schedule. However, if there is such a thing as luck, and if the Bengals are just destined to play well against the NFC North, 2013 could be our year.