Cincinnati Bengals schedule analysis
Breakdown: The Cincinnati Bengals will open on the road for the fourth straight season when it plays at the Chicago Bears, who are beginning the Marc Trestman era. In an unusual trend, this marks the fifth time in eight years that Cincinnati opens against a team that is in its first year with a new coach. The Bengals beat Herm Edwards and the Chiefs in 2006, lost to John Harbaugh and the Ravens in 2008, fell to Josh McDaniels and the Broncos in 2009, and beat Pat Shurmur and the Browns in 2011.
Cincinnati plays two of its first three games at Paul Brown Stadium and its last two games at home, which might not be a big advantage if the Bengals duplicate last season. The Bengals were 4-4 at home in 2012 and 6-2 on the road. The Bengals will play their last two games at home -- against two playoff teams from last season in Minnesota and Baltimore -- for only the second time in the last 16 seasons.
The Bengals have the latest bye week in the division. Their off week comes in Week 12.
Complaint department: Smack in the middle of the season, the Bengals play four road games in five weeks. This might not be a problem because, as noted earlier, the Bengals were one of the best road teams in the league last year. Cincinnati also catches a break because three of those road trips come against teams that had losing records last season (Buffalo, Detroit and Miami). The fourth road game is at defending Super Bowl champion Baltimore. This grueling road stretch comes after the Bengals play the New England Patriots at home.
Ready for prime time? After making the playoffs in back-to-back seasons, the Bengals are getting more respect, receiving three prime-time games. Two of those national television matchups are against the Steelers. The other is a Thursday night game at Miami on Oct. 31. Cincinnati now has to prove it's ready for prime time. Since the start of the 2007 season, the Bengals are 1-9 in the national spotlight. This ties the Jacksonville Jaguars for the worst record in prime time during that stretch.
Bengals Regular Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 8, at Chicago, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Monday, Sept. 16, Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 22, Green Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 29, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 6, New England, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 13, at Buffalo, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 20, at Detroit, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 27, NY Jets, 4:05 p.m.
Week 9: Thursday, Oct. 31, at Miami, 8:25 p.m.
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 10, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 17, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 1, at San Diego, 4:25 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 8, Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 15, at Pittsburgh, 8:30 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 22, Minnesota, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 29, Baltimore, 1 p.m.