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Bengals Schedule 2017: 5 things to know about Cincinnati’s road to the Super Bowl

The Bengals have a home opener for the first time in the Dalton-Green era, and it comes against a division rival.

Cincinnati Bengals v Baltimore Ravens Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Bengals’ 2017 schedule was released Thursday night, so we now know what their potential path to a Super Bowl looks like.

Sure, Cincinnati didn’t even make it to the playoffs last season, and they suffered some big offseason defections this year. But in the NFL, a team can rise up out of nowhere and find itself in the Super Bowl, just like the Falcons did last season.

Can the Bengals be this year’s surprise team that makes it all the way to the final game? Here are five things you need to know about Cincinnati’s path to potentially doing so:

1. A home opener, finally.

The Bengals have not opened an NFL season at Paul Brown Stadium since 2009. Year after year, the NFL schedule has been released, and year after year, the Bengals have been scheduled to open on the road, even when they were making five-straight playoff appearances.

Franchise cornerstones Andy Dalton and A.J. Green have yet to experience a home opener in Week 1, but that will change this year when they host the Ravens in their regular-season opener. This is also a game Cincinnati badly needs to win in order to get this season started on the right track and ultimately make it back to the postseason.

Baltimore will be a tough challenge, but this is still a game the Bengals should win.

2. Tough Opening Stretch

The Bengals will get tested right out of the gate this year with a promising Ravens squad coming to PBS in Week 1. Baltimore came close to winning the AFC North last season, but a narrow Week 16 loss in Pittsburgh eliminated them from playoff contention, and they had nothing to play for in Week 17 as Cincinnati won that matchup with ease.

Then comes the Texans on a short week when the two clash on Thursday Night Football. Houston won the AFC South last year and advanced to the Divisional Round of the playoffs, and now they have J.J. Watt healthy after he missed most of last season with a back injury.

Cincinnati will then travel to Green Bay for a clash with the Packers, who’ve made eight straight playoff trips and are heavy favorites to do so again this year. This is one of, if not the toughest game on Cincinnati’s schedule this year, making this a pretty tough three-game stretch to open the regular season.

3. Two Primetime Games

The Bengals have gotten a lot of primetime love in recent years thanks in large part to those five-straight winning seasons. They got four primetime games in each of the past two seasons, as well as three primetime games in the 2014, ‘13 and ‘12 seasons. However, one of the primetime games originally scheduled for 2016 was Pittsburgh vs Cincinnati in Week 14, but that ultimately got flexed out in the weeks leading up to that matchup.

And because the Bengals took a big step back in 2016 with a 6-9-1 record, they only get two primetime games this season. Cincinnati went 1-2 in their primetime games last season after going 1-3 in them in 2015.

The good news is both primetime affairs this year come at home and are very winnable games vs the Texans in Week 2 and the Steelers in Week 13. Even without A.J. Green, the Bengals still nearly upset both Houston and Pittsburgh late last season.

4. Week 6 Bye

The Bengals have had their bye week in Week 9 or sooner in four-straight years now with their 2017 bye coming in Week 6. Last year, the bye came in Week 9 following the London matchup with Washington. In 2015, the bye came in Week 7, and it was Week 4 in 2014.

Most teams prefer to have their byes in the Week 9-11 range around the midpoint of the season, but the Bengals have consistently gotten theirs before then.

5. Three-game home and road swings.

The Bengals have the rare situation of a three-game road stretch followed by a three-game homestand in one season. Starting in Week 9, the Bengals are on the road for three-straight weeks against the Jaguars, Titans and Broncos.

That’s followed up by a three-week stretch of home games with the Browns, Steelers and Bears coming to town. Many teams will go an entire season without a three-game home or road stretch, but the Bengals somehow got both in a six-week stretch.

Bengals 2017 Regular-Season Schedule:

  • Sunday, Sept. 10: Baltimore, 1 p.m.
  • Thursday, Sept. 14: Houston, 8:25 p.m. (NFL Network)
  • Sunday, Sept. 24: at Green Bay, 4:25 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 1: at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 8: Buffalo, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 15: Bye
  • Sunday, Oct. 22: at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Oct. 29: Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 5: at Jacksonville, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 12: at Tennessee, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 19: at Denver, 4:25 p.m.
  • Sunday, Nov. 26: Cleveland, 1 p.m.
  • Monday, Dec. 4: Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
  • Sunday, Dec. 10: Chicago, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 17: at Minnesota, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 24: Detroit, 1 p.m.
  • Sunday, Dec. 31: at Baltimore, 1 p.m