The Cincinnati Bengals will find out what their path to Super Bowl LVIII is when the schedule is announced on May 11th. Unlike the past two years, this season's slate of opponents doesn't seem as menacing.
The Bengals face the measly AFC South, the declining NFC West, and only have to play the first place team from the AFC East. They still have the Chiefs on their schedule but compared to previous years, this is a welcomed sight.
What is the biggest hope for Bengals fans when the schedule is announced? Let's take a look at a few best-case scenarios for Cincinnati when their schedule is finally revealed.
3. BYE week around the halfway mark
It's wild that some teams have their BYE week as early as Week 4 because the season is still very new and fresh at that point. The most ideal time to have the BYE week is at the halfway mark (Week 9-12ish) because it gives these guys a week to heal, rest up, and gear up for a potential playoff run.
Fortunately, the Bengals have had decent BYE weeks recently so let's hope that trend continues in 2023.
2. Divisional primetime games at Paycor
When the 2022 schedule was announced, the most notable thing was that Cincinnati had to play all three of their divisional road games under the bright lights of primetime. That hardly seemed fair at the time and while the Steelers game ended up getting flexed out of Sunday Night Football, the Ravens and Browns games went on as scheduled. The Bengals lost both of those games.
Hopefully, this leads the NFL to give the Bengals home field advantage this time if they're going against the Browns and Ravens in primetime.
1. Tougher games late in the year
If there's one thing we've noticed about the Bengals during this run with Joe Burrow as the starting quarterback, it's that he and the team start slow and then get hot at the perfect time late in the year.
Following their Super Bowl appearance in the 2021 season, the Bengals started the 2022 campaign with an 0-2 record. They were 5-4 at their Week 10 BYE (the same mark that they had at that point in 2021) and didn't lose again until the Chiefs took them down in the AFC Championship Game.
Speaking of the Chiefs, it's benefitted Cincinnati to have them on their schedule later in the season. If the Bengals are tasked with beating KC at their house on banner night to kick off the NFL season, I'm not sure this team will be at their best.
Give me those tough games after the halfway point. That's when the Cincinnati Bengals play their best ball.