Cincinnati Bengals: Looking Ahead at 2017 Schedule Has Promise

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Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) slides for a first down against Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) and defensive lineman Billy Winn (97) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Denver defeated the Cincinnati 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports
Sep 25, 2016; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) slides for a first down against Denver Broncos cornerback Aqib Talib (21) and defensive lineman Billy Winn (97) in the second half at Paul Brown Stadium. Denver defeated the Cincinnati 29-17. Mandatory Credit: Mark Zerof-USA TODAY Sports /
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A first look at the Cincinnati Bengals 2017 schedule gives them a favorable 16-game slate for next season.

On Christmas Eve, Randy Bullock‘s impression of Scott Norwood helped solidify the Bengals’ 13 opponents for next season. The loss dropped Cincinnati to 5-9-1, and fans can enjoy putting this season behind them and moving on to 2017.

On Christmas Day, 2017 became even clearer. The Pittsburgh Steelers wrapped up the AFC North with a win over Baltimore. The loss officially eliminated the Ravens from playoff contention for the third time in four years.

Later that night, the Kansas City Chiefs dismantled the Denver Broncos, 33-10. Like Baltimore, the Broncos were eliminated from postseason contention.

Just like that, the six AFC playoff teams were set in stone.

So is the list of the Bengals’ opponents in 2017:

Home: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Buffalo, Indianapolis, Houston, Detroit, Chicago

Away: Pittsburgh, Baltimore, Cleveland, Denver, Tennessee, Jacksonville, Green Bay, Minnesota

The Buffalo Bills and Broncos elimination from the postseason locks both of them into third place in their respective divisions and matchups with the Bengals next season.

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The skinny

At first glance, the opponents do not seem overwhelming. Of the nine AFC teams they are scheduled to play, only two (Pittsburgh and Houston) made the playoffs this season.

In a four-year rotation, Cincinnati is set to play the NFC North in 2017. The Bengals have won the division the last three times — 2005, 2009, 2013–  they’ve faced the NFC North, compiling a 10-2 record in that span.

Next year, the Bengals can at the very least do some sightseeing.

They will play at Lambeau Field, where they defeated Aaron Rodgers in 2009 on the heels of Chad Johnson‘s “Lambeau leap,” Cedric Benson‘s 141 rushing yards, and Antwon Odom’s five sacks.

Only six players (Rey Maualuga, Domata Peko, Andrew Whitworth, Kevin Huber, Pat Sims, Michael Johnson) are remaining on the Bengals’ roster from the last time they visited Lambeau. Which is the second oldest stadium in the NFL behind Chicago’s Soldier Field.

The Bengals will also play in the newest NFL stadium, too. U.S Bank Stadium, home of the Minnesota Vikings, opened in August and the Bengals will head there next season after going 0-5 in the Purple People Eaters’ previous two venues (Metropolitan Stadium & Hubert H. Humphrey Metrodome).

The total number of postseason teams Cincinnati will battle against next season is still in the air. Green Bay (9-6) and Detroit (9-5) will battle for the NFC North crown next Sunday at Ford Field, but the loser could still earn a wild card.

Another factor yet to be determined is the order these match ups will be played in. The NFL’s schedule release is usually in April.

Next: Tyler Eifert and Clint Boling on IR

In 2016, the Bengals were dealt a tough hand to start the year. Including three straight games against double-digit win teams from the previous season and a seventh straight road opener.

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