In 2016, the Bengals will play the AFC North, AFC East, NFC East, the Broncos and the Texans. According to 2015 win percentages, Cincinnati has one of football's easiest schedules in 2016 (although that means pretty much nothing). Let's take a look at history and review the Bengals' matchups with each of their 2016 opponents.
Cleveland Browns (3-13)
The Bengals are 46-39-0 (.541) against their upstate rivals, and they've won 7 of 10 matchups in the Dalton era. In all likeliness, either Robert Griffin, Josh McCown or a rookie will start at quarterback for Cleveland this season. At the very least, the Bengals should win at least one of two games against Cleveland, though sweeping the series seems about just as or more likely as splitting it.
Baltimore Ravens (5-11)
The Bengals have a 20-20-0 lifetime record (.500) against the Ravens, but that looks more deceiving that what it should look like. Andy Dalton's Bengals lost their first three matchups with Baltimore, but since then, the Bengals have won 6 of 7, including season sweeps in 2014 and 2015. Cincinnati is currently on a five-game winning streak against the Ravens, so they'll look to build on that in 2016. And though many expect the Ravens to bounce back after a down year, it's just as possible that the Ravens, with a depleted, aging roster, go under .500 for a second consecutive year. Cincinnati should win at least one of the two matchups with Baltimore, but I expect the Bengals to win both.
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6)
Cincinnati has largely struggled against Pittsburgh throughout the history of the two competing, compiling a 35-58-0 record (.376) against its division rival. The Bengals are 4-8 against the Steelers during Andy Dalton's tenure, and only one of those wins came at Paul Brown Stadium. Cincinnati has lost 5 of its last 6 matchups with the Steelers, so expecting a win, let alone multiple wins, would require at least some aspect of hope. I certainly believe the Bengals are capable of winning, but I'll admit that it takes overconfidence and wishful thinking for me to have this mindset. The Steelers, as much as I despise them, have earned their solid reputation for a reason. They're a good football team.
Buffalo Bills (8-8)
Cincinnati's record against Buffalo is a surprisingly low 14-15-0 (.483), though the Bengals have won all three matchups against the Bills in the Dalton era. The Bengals trounced the Bills last year, but Tyrod Taylor missed the game with an injury. His return could change the way this game pans out in 2016.
Miami Dolphins (6-10)
This comes as a huge surprise to me. Sure, the Dolphins were dominant in the past, but they've been fantastic against the Bengals. Cincinnati's record against Miami is a measly (5-16-0), and the Bengals' .238 win percentage against the Dolphins is the worst win percentage against any opponent in the NFL. The Bengals have dropped three straight contests to Miami, last winning in 2007. Cincinnati also endured a nine-game losing streak against the Dolphins, which started in 1978 and finally ended in 2004. Their most recent matchup with the Dolphins resulted in Geno Atkins tearing his ACL, an injury that quietly decimated the Bengals' run defense in 2013. The Chargers rushed for 196 yards and two touchdowns against the Bengals in the 2013 playoffs, and Atkins' absence from the game is a huge reason why Cincinnati struggled.
New York Jets (10-6)
The Bengals have also struggled against the Jets, though they've made a good attempt at narrowing the gap between these two teams, in terms of head-to-head historic record. Cincinnati has only played New York one time in Dalton's career, winning a 49-9 blowout to end a four-game losing streak against the Jets. Cincinnati is 8-17-0 (.320) against New York all-time. Many Bengal fans, myself included, resent the Jets for beating the Bengals two times over the course of seven days, effectively knocking Cincinnati out of the playoffs in the first round of the playoffs after winning their Week 17 matchup just six days earlier. The Bengals haven't ever won at MetLife Stadium; they'll have two chances to do so this year.
New England Patriots (12-4)
Playing the Patriots is never fun, and the Bengals' all-time record against New England is a good indicator of that. The Bengals are 9-15-0 (.375) against the Patriots, and they've lost five of the most recent six matchups with New England. The Bengals haven't won in Foxborough since 1986. Can they finally end that streak this season?
Dallas Cowboys (4-12)
Despite both franchises being around for a long time, the Bengals have only played the Cowboys 11 times, and they've gone 4-7-0 (.364) in those games. The two teams have only faced each other four times since 2000, and the Cowboys have won three of four in this millennium. The Bengals will face the Cowboys in Dallas, and unfortunately, Cincinnati has yet to win a game in the Cowboys' home stadium. On the bright side, the Bengals are only one of two teams who have yet to play in AT&T Stadium (the Ravens are the other), so maybe the change of scenery for the Dallas matchup will be good to Cincinnati.
Philadelphia Eagles (7-9)
There's finally some good news for the Bengals. Of all 31 teams the Bengals have faced in NFL History, Cincinnati has only been more successful against the Lions than the Eagles. With an 8-3-1 record (.708) against Philly, the Bengals should have every reason to expand on that success in 2016. The Bengals haven't lost to the Eagles since 2000, though the two teams tied in 2008.
New York Giants (6-10)
With a 6-3-0 record (.667) against the Giants, the Bengals will look to continue their domination of New York. However, there's one interesting tidbit to point out here: the home team has won in every matchup between these two teams. In 2016, the Giants will be hosting the Bengals in primetime. Here's to hoping the Bengals can kill two narratives with one stone.
Washington Redskins (9-7)
The Bengals may only have a 5-4-0 record (.556) against the Redskins, but Cincinnati is quietly pulling away from Washington in the all-time head-to-head record between the two teams. The Bengals have beaten the Redskins in the past three matchups between these two teams, the Redskins last winning in 1991.
Other 2015 AFC Division Champions
Since the Bengals won the AFC North last year, they'll have to face all of the AFC teams who won their division. They've already been scheduled to face the Patriots, so they'll also face the Broncos and Texans. The Steelers will play every AFC team who finished in second place in their division in 2015, the Ravens will take on the third-place teams, and the Browns will play the fourth-place teams.
Denver Broncos (12-4)
Not to any surprise, the Bengals have historically struggled against the Broncos, compiling a 9-20 record (.310) against the reigning Super Bowl champions. At one point from 1977 to 1998, the Bengals lost 10 of 11 against the Broncos. More recently, they've lost five of the past six matchups, spanning back to 2009. That lone win, though, was a game to remember.
Houston Texans (9-7)
The Bengals beat the Texans in their first three matchups, but things quickly went downhill from there. A 4-6 lifetime record (.400) doesn't seem that bad, but losing six of seven matchups is. That's exactly what the Bengals have done, only winning a snoozer against Ryan Mallett. The Bengals have yet to win a game against any quarterback on the Texans' current roster, and the three Texans quarterbacks are 7-0 against Cincinnati. I don't know what it is about the Texans, but I never look forward to playing them. That Bengals fans were surprised or upset that Cincinnati played poorly against Houston last season was alarming to me; the Bengals can't ever seem to pull off a victory against the Texans. Hopefully that will change this season.