Next. The NFL draft.
One of the more anticipated offseason dates has come and gone when the league announced the 2013 regular season schedule on Thursday. Lists are being generated for "most intriguing" or "most important" throughout the league. Prime time screw jobs have similar themes to their Pro Bowl counterparts. Team sites, blogs, newspapers and even even the national media will break it down for a couple of days. A nice respite from the saturating draft talk that will blanket us next week.
A collection of random thoughts on the Bengals 2013 regular season schedule.
+ Cincinnati will play three primetime games -- one for each night, two of which are against the Pittsburgh Steelers (an oddity most of the time).
+ Cincinnati opens the regular season with a target, needing to prove offensive availability while playing powerful offenses led by Jay Cutler, Aaron Rodgers, Ben Roethlisberger and Tom Brady in four of their first five games. The defense may save but the offense needs to be productive -- and god forbid reliable.
+ Week 6-9 may express an apparent relief on the team's schedule. However opponents like the Bills, Jets and Dolphins have historically given Cincinnati problems.
It took over 20 years for Cincinnati to finally beat the Buffalo Bills. Prior to Cincinnati's 23-20 win on October 2, 2011, the Bengals lost ten straight against the Bills. This year Cincinnati travels to Buffalo, where they haven't won since November 3, 1985. There is a revenge factor having been eliminated by the New York Jets during the first round of the 2009 NFL playoffs. Yet the Bengals have lost nine of the past ten games against the Jets, dating back to 1992. We hate them. Cincinnati is 2-11 against the Dolphins since 1978.
+ Head coach Marvin Lewis approves how the 2013 schedule looks, with an exciting home opener on Monday Night Football against a division rival while finishing the season with two comfortable home games.
"It’s exciting to know we’ll open the home schedule against the Steelers on Monday night," Lewis said. "We have had some great games against Pittsburgh the last few years, and the atmosphere should be tremendous. And of course I like having the last two at home, but we need to make sure we’re in position to capitalize on that edge."
+ Cincinnati hosts the Minnesota Vikings and Baltimore Ravens during the team's final two games of the regular season this year. It's the fourth time in as many seasons that the Bengals will conclude the season against the Baltimore Ravens.
+ Save for a west coast swing to San Diego, the furthest west the Bengals will travel is Chicago in week one.
+ Cincinnati's Week 12 bye is another apparent anomaly. It's the latest bye week Cincinnati will have had scheduled dating back to a Week 15 bye in 1999. The team had scheduled week 10 bye weeks in 2008 and 2005.
"That late bye should work out for us," Peko said. "That's when you want to be rested. Before you go into those big games at the end of the year. And it's huge they're at home. That's going to be big for us."
+ Three of the last four games are at home.
+ It's actually a rather slow November. Due to the team playing a fifth October game on Halloween in Miami, their next scheduled game is November 10 in Baltimore, followed by a home game against Cleveland. The November 24 bye week is the final November weekend, entering a five-game December that ends on the 29th against Baltimore.