The NFL will release the schedule for the 2013 regular season on Thursday and NFL.com is already projecting who the best matchups of the upcoming season will be. One game that will feature two teams who are coming off back-to-back playoff appearances is the Cincinnati Bengals going up against the Green Bay Packers at Paul Brown Stadium:
At some point, Cincinnati has to prove it can beat the best teams. The Bengals tend to take care of business against the teams they’re supposed to beat … and that’s about it. Over the past three seasons, they’re 3-9 versus the Pittsburgh Steelers and Baltimore Ravens. They’ve also faltered against the Houston Texans, another quality team, over the past two campaigns. That has to change if Marvin Lewis’ group is to take the next step. Last season didn’t turn around for the Bengals until they beat the visiting New York Giants in Week 10; that victory propelled them to win six of their next seven games and secure a playoff berth.
The Packers will present a stiff challenge and litmus test for a Bengals team that some analysts feel can be a player in the AFC. Cincy can get after the quarterback (51 sacks last year), which is important in this showdown; the Packers have trouble protecting Aaron Rodgers, who sometimes holds the ball in the pocket for too long. Maybe a fan will come take the ball out of Rodgers’ hand … nah, that would never happen to a Packers quarterback in Cincinnati.