There are many reasons for Bengals fans to being looking forward to the 2016 NFL season. The latest reason brought to the forefront is that the team apparently has the sixth-easiest strength of schedule for 2016.
The Bengals' 2016 opponents had a collective winning percentage of .465 in 2015, 119-137. That has to do with the Bengals facing the struggling NFC East, whose teams went a collective 26-38 last year, among their opponents.
With an opponent record combining for 119-137 last year, the Bengals are tied with the Detroit Lions and Dallas Cowboys for the 27th-hardest strength of schedule next year. Cincinnati's division rivals all have harder schedules by the same standard, with the Steelers coming in at No. 23, the Browns at No. 21 and the Ravens at No. 19.
Cincinnati has been tabbed as a team, especially by FOX Sports' Colin Cowherd, that takes care of business in the regular season, and only wins the games they are "supposed to win", as the adage goes. Performance in primetime games is still an issue, so it will be interesting to see how many nationally televised games the Bengals get and who from their opponent list they will be against. A gambling man would be wise to put some money down on the prospect of the Bengals facing the Steelers in primetime.
But, anyone who follows football realizes that a previous year's results don't often correlate with future outcomes. While the Bengals have largely dominated the division rival Ravens by winning five of the last six games, Baltimore was a mess with a bunch injuries last year. With some high picks in their pocket for April's Draft and rejuvenated health, they should be better. Cleveland will still have its growing pains, but with new leadership at multiple levels of the organization, they should be at least a little bit improved. Other teams on the 2016 opponent list who appear to be lesser foes have given the Bengals fits over the years--particularly the Miami Dolphins and Houston Texans. The Cowboys, another 2016 opponent could also be bound for a bounce-back season.
Regardless, it looks like the Bengals' path to the postseason next season should be a relatively easy one if they continue to handle their business. Maybe that's why a certain mathematical equation has Cincinnati slated for the No. 1 seed in the AFC for 2016.