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Athlon breaks down each and every team's schedule for the 2013 NFL season
The Cincinnati Bengals have made the playoffs four times since 1990, but three of those four have come in the last four seasons. This franchise is looking to take the next step in the postseason this fall. And since scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season, Athlon is analyzing every team's 16-game slate.
Cincinnati Bengals 2013 Schedule:
Week 1: at Chicago
Week 2: Pittsburgh (Mon.)
Week 3: Green Bay
Week 4: at Cleveland
Week 5: New England
Week 6: at Buffalo
Week 7: at Detroit
Week 8: New York Jets
Week 9: at Miami (Thurs.)
Week 10: at Baltimore
Week 11: Cleveland
Week 12: BYE
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: Indianapolis
Week 15: at Pittsburgh
Week 16: Minnesota
Week 17: Baltimore
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Out of the Gate: Few teams will begin the season like the Bengals in 2013. The first five weeks of the season have to be the league's toughest opening slate and the first three weeks are definitely the NFL's most difficult opening. Home games with Pittsburgh, Green Bay (after a short week) and New England coupled with road games against Chicago and Cleveland offer as nasty a first month as there is in the NFL. And two of these contests are divisional games that will likely decide playoff seeding come the season's end.
Toughest Stretch: The final month of the season won't be any easier for Marvin Lewis and company. Road games with San Diego and Pittsburgh will be tough and three other playoff teams from a year ago — Indianapolis, Minnesota and Baltimore — will come to Paul Brown Stadium during the season's most important month. Not only are two of those tests against divisional foes, but this slate also includes four AFC teams that figure to battle for a postseason berth.
|Swing Games:||at SD (Week 13), IND (Week 14)|
|Crossover Divisions:||AFC East, NFC North|
|Bye Week:||Week 12|
|Opp. 2012 W/L %:||.508 (12th)|
|Athlon's SOS Rank:||4th|
Easiest Stretch: With the AFC's toughest schedule according to Athlon Sports, there are few breaks in '13 for the Bengals. But there is a four-week stretch in the heart of the season that will allow this team catch its breath. Three of them are on the road but Cincy should be favored heavily in all four. Fans of the Bills, Lions, Jets and Dolphins can't possibly be expecting to make the playoffs this fall, can they?
Circle The Calendar: Tom Brady, Andrew Luck, Aaron Rodgers, Big Ben and Adrian Peterson are all coming to Cincinnati this year (buy your season tickets now, folks). But when the defending Super Bowl champs roll into town for the regular-season finale, all eyes will be on Paul Brown Stadium. The AFC North championship and/or a wild card berth should be on the line, providing a fitting end to the regular season.
Divisional Notes: The AFC North could be the most balanced and deepest division in the AFC this fall (sorry, Browns fans). The good news is the Bengals will get extra time to prepare for both Pittsburgh in Week 2 (Monday night) and the trip to Baltimore in Week 10 (Thursday night game in Miami the previous week). The bad news is the Bengals will play at Pittsburgh and will host Baltimore over the final three weeks of the season. This does afford the team a chance to win the division on its own. However, it also means the division favorite (Steelers) and the defending Super Bowl champs could control their own destiny as well. Much will hang in the balance in the final three weeks for Cincinnati.
Playoff Push: As the "toughest stretch" shows, the final month of the season will be brutal for the Bengals. The two division games are massive but a potential wild card showdown with Indianapolis and visit from the developing Vikings and All-Day are just as difficult. The good news is three of the final four contests will come at home, including the all-important regular season finale against the Ravens.
Fantasy Playoff Run (Weeks 14-16): A visit to Heinz Field, especially considering that the Steelers were No. 1 in the NFL in both total and passing defense last season, is not what you want to see on a fantasy postseason schedule. What there is to like: the two home games against Indianapolis and Minnesota. The Colts’ and Vikings’ defenses are not the second coming of the Steel Curtain, as evidenced by their 21st and 24th rankings, respectively, against the pass last season.
2013 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis:
|AFC East||AFC North||AFC South||AFC West|
|Buffalo||Baltimore||Houston (6/19)||Denver (6/18)|
|Miami (6/25)||Cincinnati||Indianapolis (6/20)||Kansas City (6/24)|
|New England (6/26)||Cleveland (6/17)||Jacksonville (6/21)||Oakland (6/28)|
|NY Jets (6/27)||Pittsburgh (7/1)||Tennessee (7/3)||San Diego (7/2)|
|NFC East||NFC North||NFC South||NFC West|
|Dallas (6/18)||Chicago (6/17)||Atlanta||Arizona|
|NY Giants (6/25)||Detroit (6/19)||Carolina||St. Louis (6/27)|
|Philadelphia (6/26)||Green Bay (6/20)||New Orleans (6/24)||San Francisco (6/28)|
|Washington (7/3)||Minnesota (6/21)||Tampa Bay (7/2)||Seattle (7/1)|
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