Bengals will face 2017 schedule that could pave road back to playoffs
CINCINNATI (WKRC) - After missing the playoffs in 2016 to snap a five-year postseason streak, the Bengals will face a schedule in 2017 that could pave the road to bouncing back and earning a berth.
Per CBSSports.com, based on 2016 records, the Bengals will face the fourth-easiest schedule with the teams they play in 2017 compiling just a 115-141-0 record in 2016 for a .449 winning percentage.
NFL schedules are basically pre-determined through the 2019 season with each team playing the following:
- Its three division opponents twice each (once at home and once on the road).
- Each of the four teams from another division within its conference on a rotating three-year cycle (this year it will be the AFC South).
- Each of the four teams from a division in the other conference on a rotating four-year cycle (this year it will be the NFC North).
- Two intra-conference games based on the prior year’s standings with first-place teams facing first-place teams, second-place teams playing second-place teams, etc. In 2017 the AFC North finishers are scheduled to play similar finishers from the AFC West and AFC East. So by finishing third in the AFC North the Bengals will face the Denver Broncos and Buffalo Bills.
The dates and times for each of the 16 games will be announced in mid-April, but the sites for each of the 16 games are also already determined. Here is a look at the Bengals home and road games (2016 records in parentheses):
- Home (56-72 opponent record in 2016): Baltimore (8-8), Cleveland (1-15), Pittsburgh (11-5), Houston (9-7), Indianapolis (8-8), Chicago (3-13), Detroit (9-7), Buffalo (7-9).
- Road (59-69 opponent record in 2016): Baltimore (8-8), Cleveland (1-15), Pittsburgh (11-5), Tennessee (9-7), Jacksonville (3-13), Green Bay (10-6), Minnesota (8-8), Denver (9-7).
Several of the 2017 opponents have quarterback issues as well: Cleveland (six different quarterbacks played in 2016); Chicago (which is trying to move on from Jay Cutler); Buffalo (which is trying to move on from Tyrod Taylor); Jacksonville (Blake Bortles has been wildly inconsistent); Houston (Brock Osweiler was a disaster in 2016) and Denver (Trevor Siemian is simply a stop gap, although he did lead the Broncos to win in Cincinnati in 2016).
Keep in mind, too, that while the Bengals went 6-9-1 they lost five games by a combined 16 points.
As for the 2017 strength of schedule of the other three AFC North teams they are ranked the following:
- Pittsburgh - Tied for fifth-easiest schedule (115-139-2 record in 2016 for 2017 opponents).
- Baltimore - Ninth-easiest schedule (117-137-2 record in 2016 for 2017 opponents).
- Cleveland - Tied for 11th-easiest schedule (119-135-2 record in 2016 for 2017 opponents).
Denver has the toughest schedule in 2017 with opponents compiling a 147-107-2 record in 2016, while the Indianapolis Colts have the easiest with opponents compiling a 107-146-3 record.
Here is what the Bengals will face in 2018 and 2019 with future schedules for each season (in addition to facing their three AFC North Division opponents at home and on the road):
- Home: Denver, Oakland, New Orleans, Tampa Bay, AFC East like finisher.
- Road: Kansas City, San Diego, Carolina, Atlanta, AFC South like finisher.
- Home: New England, New York Jets, Arizona, San Francisco, AFC South like finisher.
- Road: Buffalo, Miami, L.A. Rams, Seattle. AFC West like finisher.