In honor of the release of the 2015 regular season schedule, we rank the top-five games of the year:
Bengals v Steelers
It doesn't matter when this game is played or the implications involved when it's played. The Steelers are one of Cincinnati's top division rivals and beating them, in Week 2or Week 15, is a mini-accomplishment within a much grander scale. Beat the Steelers in Week 2? Fine. That's like one step below the euphoria that Bengals fans should feel when the team finally wins a playoff game -- OK, I'm presuming that it will happen at one point so let's just roll with that.
That being said, Pittsburgh won the AFC North in 2014 and wiped out the Bengals in two games -- a 42-21 loss in week 14 where the Steelers dropped 25 fourth quarterback points on Cincinnati, and a 27-17 loss in Pittsburgh on Sunday Night Football.
Since the Bengals swept the Steelers in 2009, Cincinnati has beaten Pittsburgh only twice in the last 10 games... literally, that's 2-8 in five seasons ('10, '11, '12, '13, and '14). Cincinnati hasn't beaten the Steelers since Sept. 16, 2013 (MNF) and before that, the 13-10 division clinching win in Pittsburgh.
The Bengals will play the Steelers in Week 8 (Nov. 1) and Week 14 (Dec. 13). Seriously. Who isn't tired of being Pittsburgh's bitch?
Bengals v Ravens
Bengals, Ravens and Steelers completes the trifecta of the AFC North -- we would include the Browns but they proved how much they know by using a first-round pick on Johnny Manziel.
Cincinnati, who swept Baltimore in 2014, will play the Ravens in Baltimore in Week 3 (Sept. 27) and at home Week 17 (Jan. 3, 2016). It will be the fifth time that the Bengals and Ravens will play the regular season finale against each other -- both teams are 2-2.
Bengals at 49ers
We hate the 49ers. If you were born about 30 years, you may have experienced Cincinnati's loss to the San Francisco 49ers during the Bengals most recent Super Bowl appearance. If you were born about 40 years ago, then you may have experienced it... twice.
Cincinnati hasn't beaten the San Francisco 49ers during the regular season since 2003 when Rudi Johnson sprinted for 174 yards rushing and two touchdowns -- Peter Warrick and Chad Johnson each scored touchdowns and Jon Kitna sported an impressive 120.2 passer rating.
The Bengals are 3-11 all-time against the San Francisco 49ers, including two losses in Super Bowl XVI and XXIII respectively.
We hate the 49ers.
Bengals at Broncos
There will be a revenge factor, I'm sure. Cincinnati's Week 16 win over the Denver Broncos last year seemed like the national acknowledgement that Peyton Manning was just about done. Instead of retiring after the Broncos first-game exit in the playoffs, Manning announced he's coming back, but this time with a new head coach, Gary Kubiak who replaced the fired John Fox.
Strangely enough, the schedule makers said... 'we played them on Monday Night Football in Week 16, so let's do it against this year'! The only difference is that the game will be played in Denver this time.
STORY LINE: The Broncos Revenge
ALTERNATIVE: The Vance Joseph Game
Seahawks at Bengals
This is a fascinating matchup, allowing Seahawks quarterback Russell Wilson to play in the city in which he was born. This will only be the third time that these two teams will play in Cincinnati since 1993, after a six-game stretch from '77-'86 where every game was played in the queen city. The Bengals lead the all-time series: 10-9.
|10/30/2011||CenturyLink Field (Seattle, WA)||W 34-12|
|09/23/2007||Qwest Field (Seattle, WA)||L 24-21|
|10/26/2003||Paul Brown Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 27-24|
|11/07/1999||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||L 37-20|
|09/17/1995||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||L 24-21|
|11/06/1994||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||W 20-17, OT|
|09/26/1993||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||L 19-10|
|09/06/1992||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||W 21-3|
|10/06/1991||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||L 13-7|
|10/01/1990||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||L 31-16|
|12/10/1989||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||L 24-17|
|12/31/1988 *||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 21-13|
|10/11/1987||Kingdome (Seattle, WA)||W 17-10|
|11/16/1986||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 34-7|
|09/08/1985||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||L 28-24|
|11/18/1984||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||L 26-6|
|12/26/1982||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 24-10|
|09/06/1981||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 27-21|
|09/25/1977||Riverfront Stadium (Cincinnati, OH)||W 42-20|
* AFC Divisional Playoff Game
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT: Just because the Seahawks play in the NFC doesn't mean that these games have no importance. First of all, a win is a win -- they are all important. Second of all, every team in the AFC North plays the NFC West; so there's a common opponents tiebreaker component here.
MATCHUP OF THE GAME: Bengals offensive line v the Seahawks front seven
SEXY MATCHUP OF THE GAME: A.J. Green v Richard Sherman
Bengals at Cardinals: The Bidwell v the Brown family. Who would have thought 10-15 years ago that this would have been a battle between two successful teams?
WHY IS THIS IMPORTANT: (see Seahawks, Seattle)
MATCH UP THE GAME: Entire defense against Carson Palmer
REMATCH OF THE GAME: This.