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Bengals play the Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers in three of the next five games

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Last year, the 4-11-1 Cincinnati Bengals (do you really need that reminder?) finished the season with a .553 strength of schedule, which was freaking tough, man. The projected strength of schedule at the start of this season lessened to .465, which means Cincinnati should have an easier go of it this year. It helps playing the AFC West and the Detroit Lions.

However, before we get to any of that, the Bengals are readying themselves for an incredibly tough stretch that will likely make or break their season. Ouch. Already. I think so.

Date Opponent Opp. Record
10.11.2009 @ Baltimore Ravens 3-1
10.18.2009 Houston Texans 2-2
10.25.2009 Chicago Bears 3-1
11.8.2009 Baltimore Ravens 3-1
11.15.2009 @ Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2

The Texans? True. But, they smoked us last year 35-6. Houston has beaten the Titans and Raiders and lost to the Jaguars and Jets. The Bears? They've beaten the Steelers, Seahawks and Lions. Sure, every NFL is technically critical, but not so much; I think our odds are better against both teams. Call me confident. Call me Paul. It's the point in the schedule in which Cincinnati plays Baltimore and Pittsburgh in three of the next five games that makes be believe that the season will be won or lost. Isn't it a bit early to think that way? Perhaps. But if we lose our grip against those teams, we could find ourselves in a hole against two teams that don't figure to lose much this year.