Bengals have huge strength of schedule advantage over AFC North rivals

Cincinnati finished last in the division last season.
Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals
Baltimore Ravens v Cincinnati Bengals / Dylan Buell/GettyImages

The NFL officially released the 2024 Strength of Schedule for all 32 teams in the league based on opponent win percentage from last season, and upon looking at the list, something immediately jumps out.

The top three teams with the toughest schedules for the upcoming NFL season are all teams from the AFC North -- the Cleveland Browns, Baltimore Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers. The Cincinnati Bengals, the fourth and final team from the division, is all the way down at No. 16.

Bengals have easiest 2024 strength of schedule in AFC North

It may seem strange that the Bengals would be so far down the list compared to the other teams in their division, but part of each team's schedule is based on how that team finished in the standings the previous season. The Bengals finished fourth in the division in 2023 and they were the only team in the group that didn't make the playoffs.

As a result of that, they have an easier schedule than their division rivals on paper. But, it's important to remember that football games aren't won on paper, they're won on the field, and it's ultimately up to the team to take care of business, regardless of who is across from them.

It's also important to keep in mind that the NFL's Strength of Schedule is based entirely on winning percentage from the previous season, which doesn't account for any offseason improvements. A team could have finished poorly last season but drastically improved via free agency and the draft, so they're not the same team they were the year before.

Nonetheless, the Bengals will take any advantage that they can get in an ultra-competitive division, and the team's disappointing finish last season may have gifted them a slightly easier slate of games than their main rivals for the upcoming season.