There is still a lot of hype going on about the Bengals and what they may be capable of doing in 2012. Many experts and fans agree that their schedule seems to be on the lighter side in the beginning of the season before their week 8 bye, and then gets tougher down the stretch. I will not be predicting any wins or losses in this article; instead I will be breaking down what to watch for during each game of the season. Based on what team the Bengals are playing, I will give my insight as to what the Bengals need to be weary of, and what they must do in order to be successful in each of the games in the upcoming season. Let’s get started.
Week 1: @ Baltimore Ravens
Opening night. It’s one thing to open up against the Ravens. It’s another thing to open up against the Ravens at home. And it’s yet another thing to do it under the pressure of a nationally televised game on Monday night. The Ravens are always a dangerous team as they most likely will be again this season. Ray Rice is always a force to be reckoned with, and their defense is stifling. Also, the Ravens hold one of the best records at home over the last couple of seasons in the entire NFL.
What the Bengals need to do: First and foremost, this young team can’t get too over-hyped about playing their first game on Monday night. The extra adrenaline could prove to be their downfall as receivers could become distracted and run routes poorly, and the defensive front and linebackers could over-pursue the dangerous Ray Rice and allow gaping holes for him up front. It’s important to treat this game like every other. This team can not afford to get overwhelmed by the glory of the spotlight on Monday night. They need to play within themselves and play solid fundamental football. The rest will take care of itself. This will certainly be a huge challenge for Marvin Lewis and his coaching staff.
Week 2: vs. Cleveland Browns
This is the home opener for the season. It could be very easy to get too amped up to play in front of the home crowd. Also, it’s very important to not underestimate the Browns in this contest. Yes, they have a rookie quarterback and a rookie running back, but the Browns will always play the Bengals tough. Trent Richardson seems to be the next coming of Adrian Peterson, and he will need lots of attention. The Bengals offense also needs to be weary of the Browns secondary that finished in the top 10 in the league last season.
What the Bengals need to do: Contain, contain, contain. Trent Richardson needs to be kept under control. The Bengals will need to force rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden to beat them through the air. Also, Bengals quarterback, Andy Dalton, needs to be careful with the football as Joe Haden and company will be foaming at the mouth to get their hands on an errant pass. Finally, don’t look past the Browns, yes they are the weakest team in the division, but it is still a divisional football game, and anything can happen.