Scheduling plays a huge role in the outcome of every NFL season. So the Athlon NFL editors will spend the next month dissecting each and every week of the 2012 slate for all 32 teams in the league.
Cincinnati Bengals 2012 Schedule:
Week 1: at Baltimore (Mon.)
Week 2: Cleveland
Week 3: at Washington
Week 4: at Jacksonville
Week 5: Miami
Week 6: at Cleveland
Week 7: Pittsburgh
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Denver
Week 10: New York Giants
Week 11: at Kansas City
Week 12: Oakland
Week 13: at San Diego
Week 14: Dallas
Week 15: at Philadelphia (Thurs.)
Week 16: at Pittsburgh
Week 17: Baltimore
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- Cincinnati begins and ends its 2012 season with a double-dose of AFC North games. The Bengals open with a Monday night game in Baltimore followed by a home game against Cleveland. They end the season with a trip to Pittsburgh and then hosting the Ravens. Cincinnati plays four of its six divisional games in the first seven weeks of the season, and then doesn't play another one until Weeks 16 and 17.
- The other divisions Cincinnati draws this season are the AFC West and NFC East. Of these eight opponents, the Bengals will play seven of them in a row, starting in Week 9. Cincinnati only has to make one long trip, out west to San Diego in Week 13, but that's one of the few breaks the Bengals catch with this season's cross-divisional slate.
- Cincinnati needs to come up with as many wins as possible in their first seven games, because their last nine are pretty difficult. Outside of the season opener in Baltimore and a Week 7 home date against Pittsburgh, the first part of the Bengals' schedule appears manageable. Cincinnati gets division foe Cleveland twice, along with Washington, Jacksonville and Miami. The trip down to Florida to face the Jaguars and the home game against the Dolphins are the Bengals' two floating games this season.
- Cincinnati's bye comes in Week 8, an opportune time considering the Bengals will have just played the rival Steelers in Week 7. The bye also gives them one week to prepare for a brutal nine-game stretch to finish the season, starting with consecutive home games against the Manning brothers. Peyton and the Broncos come calling first, followed by Eli and the defending Super Bowl champion Giants. If anything, ticket sales should be brisk for these games at Paul Brown Stadium.
- The Bengals then play three straight games against the AFC West, with road trips to Kansas City and San Diego sandwiched by a home game against Oakland. That road trip out west kicks off what is arguably one of the most difficult closing five-game stretches of any team in the NFL in 2012.
- After making the long trek out to San Diego to face the Chargers, Cincinnati comes back home to take on Dallas before heading to Philadelphia to battle the Eagles on Thursday night in Week 15. Those few extra days between this game and their next one the following Sunday will come in handy as the Bengals close out the regular season in divsional play on the road against the Steelers and then home to the Ravens. All five of these teams are expected to be in the playoff race, not to mention the fact that the Cowboys and Eagles are in the same division, just like the Steelers, Ravens and Bengals. This means Cincinnati's final five games could have playoff implications tied to them.
Fantasy Focus: Quarterback Andy Dalton and wide receiver A.J. Green both put up respectable fantasy numbers in their rookie campaigns last season. However, the fantasy expectations in 2012 for the duo should probably be tempered somewhat when looking at Cincinnati's schedule. Besides facing both Baltimore and Pittsburgh twice, the Bengals also have Dallas, Denver, the New York Giants, Philadelphia and San Diego on their slate. Fantasy-wise, Cincinnati's '12 schedule appears even less appetizing upon a closer look. The Bengals have to face the three teams — Baltimore, Cleveland and Pittsburgh — that gave up the fewest fantasy points to quarterbacks last season, and will play each of them twice. Besdies their three AFC North divisional foes, Jacksonville, Kansas City, Washington and Philadelphia also ranked among the top 16 teams in this category. For Green and the rest of the Bengals' wide receivers, the outlook is even worse. Eight of Cincinnati's 13 opponents this season finished among the top 16 teams in terms of fantasy points allowed to wide receivers. Once again, divisional foes lead the way, with Cleveland and Pittsburgh coming at first and second, and Kansas City (4th), Baltimore (6th), Jacksonville (8th) and Washington (9th) also ranking among the top 10.
— by Mark Ross, published on June 12, 2012
2012 Athlon Sports NFL team-by-team schedule analysis: