The regular season is just around the corner. Fans are anxious to see what the new year brings. Prime time will be the proving grounds for the Bengals.
Well, it’s here and it’s time to get hyped. The Bengals schedule is going to provide Who Dey Nation with a never-ending supply of cheers and jeers. After the business of the draft is settled, it’ll be about getting down to brass tacks. The usual suspects in the AFC North will certainly give the Bengals a fight. But there are a few games that stand out. Cincinnati took a vacation from the postseason but they’re looking to get back in the swing of things. These three games will give an indication of what to expect from the Men in Stripes.
Week 1: Baltimore Ravens
The Bengals ended the 2016 regular season with a dominating win over Baltimore. Former Bengal Rex Burkhead shredded the vaunted B-More defense for 119 yards on 27 carries. Rex won’t be around for the festivities. But, the game will be a sign of who wants it more. The ravens started the 2016 season on fire and fizzled out down the stretch. Both teams will be coming in with much to prove. Cincinnati will want to show off a running attack that should be repaired and the Ravens will want to show it was a fluke.
The common enemy of both teams is the Pittsburgh Steelers. But, this Purple vs. Orange war has gotten heated over the years. Since 2012, the Bengals are 7-2 against their rivals from Baltimore. Opening the season with a win could put an exclamation point on the dominance.
Week 2: Houston Texans
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This is starting to become a home and away series. Seems like the Bengals are hooking up with these guys every year. Simply put, this will be a chance to purge the bitter memories of Christmas Eve from the minds of fans. Another prime time slot will give Cincy a shot at proving they can handle the Texans.
Playing under the stars hasn’t been something to look forward to. But, this is an early peek at what the Stripes can do under pressure. Andy Dalton hasn’t proven he can beat his hometown nemesis. Heartbreaking losses to the Texans seem to happen each time they’re on the schedule. Dalton is 1-5 against Houston and has to show he can lead the Bengals into a game that will have a playoff feel.
A win in this quickly growing rivalry would be a shot in the arm for a playoff hungry Bengals squad.
Week 13: Pittsburgh Steelers
Every game with the Stillahs is huge. Hopefully, the Bengals will be riding a win at Heinz Field, when the teams meet on Monday Night Football. Another game under the cover of night will be a test for the Men in Stripes. This game will surely bring back memories of the January 9 Wild Card loss. If the Bengals defense can continue the stellar work against Antonio Brown, it could be interesting.
Ken Zampese will have a chance to prove the running game has teeth. A cold night in December will be the perfect time for a 100-yard game from one of the backs. Coupled with a ball control offense and a crazy crowd in the Jungle, this should be a hoarse-throat event.