On Tuesday, the NFL officially released the 2010 schedule for the Cincinnati Bengals along with the 31 other teams. The defending AFC North Champions are looking for their first back-to-back winning seasons in 28 years after finishing 10-6 last season.
While they look to defend their division title, the Bengals know it won’t be easy in an AFC North with the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens.
Here are five notes to consider about the Bengals 2010 schedule.
Bengals contain fourth toughest schedule
Cincinnati enters the 2010 season with the fourth toughest schedule–with the only teams ahead of them being the Tennessee Titans, Houston Texans, and Dallas Cowboys.
In order to defend their AFC North title, the Bengals not only have to survive the Steelers and Ravens twice, but five other teams that reached the playoffs in 2009. As if opening the season against Tom Brady and the Patriots wasn’t enough, Cincinnati has to travel to Indianapolis to face Peyton Manning and the Colts along with a trip to the Meadowlands on Thanksgiving to face the Jets.
On top of all those road woes, the Bengals get to host the defending Super Bowl Champion Saints and the Chargers at Paul Brown Stadium in December.
Ben Roethlisberger accusation most likely won’t affect matchup with Bengals
While the decision on whether or not Roethlisberger faces a multiple-game suspension may not be known until after the draft, many wondered if there would be a chance the Bengals would gain an advantage playing the Steelers without him.
Considering the Pirates were hosting home games at Heinz Field during the second and third week of the season, many wondered if the Bengals would gain an advantage hosting the Steelers without Big Ben–that is if Goodell suspends him.
If Roethlisburger does end up missing part of the 2010 season, it most likely won’t have an impact on his game against the Bengals. The first matchup between these two rivals won’t come until Week 9 when Pittsburgh travels to Cincinnati on Monday Night Football.
Four of first six games for Bengals are away from home
Carrying over from the previous season, Cincinnati was on a five-game road winning streak at one point in 2009. They were considered one of the most dangerous teams in football with a stellar defense and their ability to win away from home.
That was until they went on to lose their final four games on the road against the Raiders, Vikings, Chargers, and Jets.
The Bengals will need to figure out their late-season road woes early on if they want any chance of winning their second-straight division title. Four of their first six games take place on the road against New England, Carolina, Cleveland, and Atlanta.
Cincinnati earns three primetime games in 2010
After finishing 2008 with a disappointing 4-11-1 record, the league decided the Bengals were not worthy of the national spotlight prior to last season–although their final regular season game against the Jets was eventually bumped up to Sunday night cause of flex scheduling.
Following their first division title since 2005, Cincinnati looks to continue last year’s success with another stellar defense and an improved offense in 2010. Their performance from last season earned them three primetime games for the upcoming season.
Along with their Monday night matchup against the Steelers in Week 9, the Bengals will play the Jets on Thanksgiving night at the Meadowlands and host the Chargers on Sunday night in Week 16.
Bengals face difficult stretch at end of season
Last season, the Bengals jumped off to a 7-2 start and were considered one of the most dangerous teams in the AFC. Unfortunately, that all disappeared as Cincinnati went on to win just three of their next eight games–including two straight losses to the Jets.
The Bengals were lucky to squeak into the playoffs despite their struggles towards the end of the season. If they want to make another run at the playoffs next season, they can’t affordanother last-season disaster with the type of schedule ahead of them.
Four of their final six games in the regular season are against teams who reached the postseason last year. The other two games are against the Steelers and Browns–and divisional games never come easy.
For more coverage on the Bengals 2010 offseason, click here.
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