With the NFL policy of setting the schedules (except for 2 games) ahead of time, it may be the case where good teams have easy schedules the following season. Based on last year, the Bengals look to be one of those teams. They will have the leagues 26th ranked schedule in terms of difficulty.
Oakland looks to have the toughest schedule statistically while Indianapolis has the easiest.
The Bengals home schedule looks like this:
Their road schedule looks like:
- New Orleans
- Tampa Bay
- New England
This schedule sets the Bengals up well for a 4th consecutive playoff appearance. Along the way they will be tested by a great offense (Broncos), a great defense (Panthers) and a thorn in the side game in Houston. Depending on how the schedule masters lay this out, the Bengals could have the opportunity to "tune up" on some poor teams to take on some of the NFL darlings.
We need the Bengals to stop the trend of playing down to the competition or coming out flat against bad teams. If the Bengals take care of business in games where they should be favored, they could cruise into the playoffs.
Strength of schedule is also a stat that means very little in the NFL. Not only is this an any given Sunday league, but the rate teams can improve or fall apart is rather large. Some terrible teams will turn it around in a season (Kansas City Chiefs) while others can lose it all (Houston Texans).
I for one am excited to see the Broncos and Panthers in Paul Brown this season. These two games are measuring stick games that the Bengals can use to see how they stack up against the top teams in the league.