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Stop all the strength of schedule nonsense

As the Bengals begin the year better than most thought, the excuses begin to creep in. The major one is the Bengals haven't been tested and have not played anyone with a winning record.

Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports

I will spare you the argument that the teams the Bengals have faced all would have better records if they would have beaten the Bengals. The only base for someone bringing out the records is a chance for them to convince themselves that the Bengals are not a better team than whichever squad they root for. This week it happens to be the Buffalo Bills.

I have read many comments from Bills' supporters about why there team has a better chance to beat the Bengals based on who the Bengals have played this season. First let me say that I take nothing away from the Bills, they have a bunch of talent and the potential to be a very good football team. That being said, there is nothing that the Bills are going to show that the Bengals have not already seen. The Bills are not even close to the best team the Bengals have faced.

We hear about the fearsome defensive line the Bills are going to trot out that is going to pressure Andy Dalton and force him into one of his bad games. I can't understand where this is coming from. Sure, if you list names, there is name recognition that may lead you to believe there is a strong unit.

  • Mario Williams
  • Marcell Dareus
  • Kyle Williams
  • Jerry Hughes

These guys in the past have racked up sacks. However, this season they have been relatively quiet. The defensive line of the Bills has only accounted for just five combined sacks. The defense as a whole only has nine sacks. If I were to compare that to the other teams in the NFL that ranks them in a tie for 20th overall. Here is just a random sampling of teams that have more sacks:

Ok, so not so random, the Bengals have played them all. The point is, Buffalo is the second worst team the Bengals have faced so far this season at sacking the quarterback. Why this equates to being more scared of their defensive front, I have no idea. So I dug a little more, I wanted to see the pressure they were bringing in games that forced opposing quarterbacks into making quick decisions. Here is one of those plays:

Without a blitz, Tom Brady had all day to pick apart the Bills' defense. So I thought "maybe the Bills get stronger in the red-zone like the Bengals?". Exhibit two:

Hmmm, looks like a full rush and the Patriots line handles it with little issue. In the Bills defense, they did record two sacks of Brady on the day. However, in doing so they gave up 466 yards through the air. If the Patriots and Bengals are the top two offenses in the NFL currently, I like Cincinnati's odds.

So beyond putting the notion that the Bills are going to present some new challenge to bed, is there any truth to this strength of schedule nonsense in the NFL?

Are we to believe the Seahawks are not a threat anymore after back-to-back Super bowl appearances? The sack leader from last season (Justin Houston) is somehow not a good player because his early numbers are off?

The NFL is different than college. There is very little difference from team to team. This is why the phrase "Any given Sunday" is so appropriate. Take the biggest spread from the weekend's games and tell me you would be outright shocked if the Chargers beat Green Bay? Probably not.

If we base the strength of schedule on teams' performances from the previous season, then Cincinnati came into the season with the number two overall hardest schedule. The fact they are currently undefeated should show what caliber team they represent.

Nope, that is a weak argument too. What matters is how teams play each week. So far we have seen the Bengals dominate (Raiders, Chiefs) and grit out games (Ravens, Seahawks). The key point is, they have passed every test that has been thrown in front of them.

So let people make all the claims they want. Really, they are looking for a reason why their team has a chance against a better opponent. It just so happens Cincinnati currently is that team.