What the Bengals Must Do To Make Playoffs Again

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Nov 30, 2014; Tampa, FL, USA; A detailed view of Cincinnati Bengals helmet on the grass against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers during the second half at Raymond James Stadium. Cincinnati Bengals defeated the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13. Mandatory Credit: Kim Klement-USA TODAY Sports

If you have been living under a rock for the past 36 hours, the Bengals Schedule was released on Tuesday evening. We know now the who, when, and where of this upcoming season. With a difficult schedule ahead, the question now is what do they have to do to make their fifth straight playoff appearance?

The Bengals start the season on the road with the Oakland Raiders. In years past, it might be a slam dunk win, but the Bengals have found the road difficult even in games that should be automatic wins, not to mention Oakland has gotten better since last season. Derek Carr has a season under his belt and shows promise over and above most young quarterback that have come into the league in the past couple of years.  Defeating the Raiders will be no cake walk.

The Bengals travel home to face the San Diego Chargers, who they lost to in the 2013 playoffs, in Week Two. Luckily, it is the regular season, afternoon game for the Bengals. With questions about Phillip Rivers and his dedication to the Chargers organization, the Bengals could be heading to Baltimore with a 2-0 record.

Again, like in 2014, Cincinnati will face the Ravens early in the season in their first of six AFC North matchups. The problem is not that they play the Ravens early in the season, but rather that they do so at M&T Bank Stadium where the Bengals could run into issues. The Ravens are tough, and at home, even tougher.

The Bengals head home to face Kansas City and probably their toughest opponent of 2015, the Seattle Seahawks. The plus side is the Bengals are better at home and the have proven that they step up against big teams. They beat the Patriots in 2013 and the Denver Broncos in 2014. If they can escape injuries and go 1-1 or 2-0 in these games, they would set themselves up nicely when heading to Buffalo before the bye week. A reasonable goal would be to go into the Week Seven bye with a 4-2 record.

Next: Week 8-17