Following the conclusion of NFL Week 16, we now know what the Bengals’ 2017 schedule looks like.
Cincinnati had already clinched the third-place spot in the AFC North, and now the same is true in the AFC West and AFC East. The Bills clinched the third-place spot in the East, which means they’ll come to Cincinnati at some point in the 2017 season.
The Broncos clinched third place in the West, which means Cincinnati will travel to Denver next season. In addition to these teams, the Bengals will have home games against the Browns, Steelers, Ravens, Bears, Lions, Texans and Colts.
On the surface, this looks like a very manageable schedule for the Bengals. We saw just how close Houston and Cincinnati are on Saturday. The Colts are wildly inconsistent and are missing the playoffs for a second-straight year.
Then you add in home games vs the Bears, Browns, Lions, Ravens, and Steelers, you’ll see the potential for 5-6 home wins next year.
The Broncos look like a shell of the Super Bowl team we saw last year, and wont be making the playoffs. Though, they beat the Bengals in Week 3. Road games against the Jaguars and Titans are very manageable as well.
The real challenge lies in the NFC North with road games in Green Bay and Minnesota. The Packers are a lock for 10+ wins as long as Aaron Rodgers is there, and beating them at Lambeau will be as big of a challenge as Cincinnati faces next year. Minnesota will be no different with Mike Zimmer looking to show his former team what they’re missing.
All in all, the potential for a winning season and playoff berth are certainly in the cards if the Bengals can get their act together this offseason, re-sign their big free agents, and have a decent showing in free agency and the NFL draft.
Green Bay Packers