James Walker lists the strength of schedule for the upcoming 2009 season, which, ironically enough the Bengals will have the toughest schedule in the division even after the Pittsburgh Steelers won the Super Bowl; their strength of schedule is 29th. There's a point to be made that the Browns and Bengals tend to lower the Steelers and Ravens strength, while the Steelers and Ravens raise ours.
We brought this topic up in late December (yes, we're that damned good) in which the Bengals finished their 2008 season playing against the opposition who had a combined .550 winning percentage; which was down from their .553 winning record before the season started based on 2007 records. The Benefit here is that we're playing the NFC North and the AFC West, thankfully weaker than the AFC South and the NFC East, rounding out with the Houston Texans and the New York Jets.
Combine that with.
- Carson Palmer's return
- An emphasis to rebuild the offensive play-calling and philosophy
- A rebuilt offensive line
- Cedric Benson, or like-wise effective running back joining the team
- Return of Keith Rivers, Corey Lynch, a healthy Johnathan Joseph, Robert Geathers, Antwan Odom (who played most of the season hurt) on defense
- Improving off their "12" total defensive ranking
Yes, we acknowledge that the Bengals are historically bad against good teams. Yes, we acknowledge that the Bengals still have to beat the man, whoa, to be the man. Yes, we acknowledge that change needs to place for sustained success.
My poll question to you, considering all of the above, is how do you feel about heading into the 2009 season?