Brett Davis-USA TODAY Sports
The Cincinnati Bengals will play the league's 12th toughest schedule in 2013.
Sure. Super Bowl. Playoff win. We get that. But claiming their second postseason berth in as many seasons is beyond a milestone that old and rugged Cincinnati Bengals fans are proud to have seen. After so many seasons dwelling in the cellar, or at the very least, knowing each regular season game meant essentially nothing, save for hopeful wins against superior NFL teams, there's a sense of relief that Cincinnati can and will make the postseason. Obviously there's more to do, next steps to take, missions to complete. But those days are gone. Long gone and hopefully younger Bengals fans, who showed up during the Marvin Lewis era never have to experience that.
However by achieving postseason success, the Cincinnati Bengals also have a slightly harder schedule. Keep in mind it's not that much harder than it would be if they finished 2-14. The NFL applies a rotation where teams in the same division play each other twice and two other divisions, rotating between an NFC division and another in the AFC. The only real differences between the schedules played by other members in the AFC North, is that the Bengals will play teams that similarly finished second in the remaining AFC divisions.
That being said Cincinnati will have the 12th hardest schedule in 2013 based on the 2012 record of next seasons opponents. Along with facing the Super Bowl Champion Baltimore Ravens twice, the Bengals will also play the AFC East with New England at home and the NFC North. The remaining teams are the Indianapolis Colts (second in the AFC South) and the San Diego Chargers (second in the AFC West). Baltimore's schedule next season is roughly the same, except they're playing the Houston Texans and Denver Broncos instead of the Colts and Chargers respectively. Pittsburgh, tied for the 22nd toughest schedule with the Browns, play the Tennessee Titans and Oakland Raiders (both of whom beat Pittsburgh in 2012).