April 23, 2014 is just one of those days that all NFL fans know about, it’s the day the NFL schedule is released. To quote former Baltimore Ravens coach Brian Billick, “I never looked at a schedule and said, boy, that looks easy.” Truth is, rarely does the schedule pan out to have back to back “easy” games, and parity in the NFL is ever so apparent every single season. What does the 2014 schedule bring for the Cincinnati Bengals? Will they capture the jungle roar, or just be held to being paper tigers?
First things first, rarely do wins and losses in September mean anything in January. Starting at Baltimore is going to be a big divisional game for the Bengals, and a solid test right of the bat. Factor in a week 4 bye, a stretch of at New Orleans, at Houston, at Tampa Bay, followed by home against Pittsburgh, a Monday night game vs. Denver and ending the season at Pittsburgh, and it’s enough to make anyone a little weary. Count in two games vs Baltimore in the first 8 weeks, and a Sunday night game vs. New England and now THAT is an NFL schedule.
Sure, last season looked intimidating on paper, and the Bengals won the AFC North by 2.5 games and produced an 11-5 regular season record. Not too bad, but I think everyone is tired of talking about regular season wins, because playoff wins is now what matters most. The flipside to this is regular season wins have to happen in order to even make the playoffs.
Where do the Bengals fit in now? The AFC North is progressively getting better as a whole and can the Bengals win back to back AFC North titles? The answer to these questions should be in first place, and yes. Why not? All the Bengals seem to do with Andy Dalton at the helm is win regular season games. The best question is, can Dalton become the face of this franchise. With a new slate of 16 games, plus three prime time games, he will have many chances to prove himself.
With that said, it is difficult to pick wins and losses, but the Bengals should play well enough to get them back into contention. The AFC North is theirs to lose, and with a healthy defense, and healthy offense, there is no reason not to think the Cincinnati Bengals will make the playoffs a 4th year in a row.
Tags: Cincinnati Bengals