Hardest Games on the Bengals’ Schedule

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Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Jan 9, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback AJ McCarron (5) throws a pass during the fourth quarter against the Pittsburgh Steelers in the AFC Wild Card playoff football game at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports /
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Oct 18, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) runs with the ball as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) defends during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bengals beat the Bills 34-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports
Oct 18, 2015; Orchard Park, NY, USA; Buffalo Bills quarterback EJ Manuel (3) runs with the ball as Cincinnati Bengals cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick (27) defends during the second half at Ralph Wilson Stadium. The Bengals beat the Bills 34-21. Mandatory Credit: Kevin Hoffman-USA TODAY Sports /

The Bengals have one of the easiest schedules in the league for 2017. But, that doesn’t mean there aren’t any hard games.

Admittedly, the Bengals got pretty lucky in the 2016 scheduling department. Per NFL.com, they’re tied for the 4th easiest schedule in the league. But that doesn’t mean they don’t have any tough games. The AFC North is full of strong teams, and many of the Bengals’ out-of-division opponents made big moves in the offseason and have the potential to be much better than their record from last year would indicate.

Below is a countdown of the five toughest games on the Bengals’ 2016-2017 schedule, with number one being the hardest.

5. Week 11: Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills

Bengals DC Paul Guenther has his hands full with this matchup. Tyrod Taylor is among the most mobile quarterbacks in the league, and with Sammy Watkins‘ ability to stretch the field deep, it’s nearly impossible to contain both threats simultaneously. Additionally, the Bengals are famously bad at containing shifty receiving threats in the backfield. If the Bengals could give up 68 yards on six catches to Chargers backup running back Danny Woodhead last year, imagine how much damage Lesean McCoy could do. Combine that offense with the defense of two Ryan brothers, and this game could be interesting.

4. Week 6: Bengals @ New England Patriots 

Barring a tear in the fabric of spacetime, this will always be a hard game. Fresh off his suspension and a blowout win over the Browns in his first week back, Tom Brady will be at full force for his Week 6 matchup against the Bengals. Rob Gronkowski and Martellus Bennett are the best tight end duo the Patriots had since Aaron Hernandez was in town. If Dion Lewis is healthy, he and a spiteful Tom Terrific could wreak havoc on the Bengals defense.

3. Week 2: Bengals @ Steelers

With last year’s playoff game still fresh in everyone’s mind, this one has the potential to get ugly. In their last meeting alone, Antonio Brown, Giovanni Bernard, and Ben Roethlisberger were all hurt in violent play. That doesn’t even factor in the Bengals’ tradition of injuring Le’Veon Bell at the end of every season.

With Vontaze Burfict suspended, the Bengals will likely have to start Trevor Roach or P.J. Dawson at a key linebacker spot, which doesn’t bode well for stopping a premier rusher like Bell. Ladarius Green didn’t put up mind-blowing stats in San Diego, but his measurables indicate he could be the next dynamic receiving threat in the Steelers’ offense. Despite the league’s suspension of Martavis Bryant for all of the 2016-2017 season, the Steelers’ offense is a force to be reckoned with.

Next: The Two Toughest Games of 2016

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