According to NFL.com, the following are the Bengals opponents (dates and times have not been determined as of this article):
The divisions which the Bengals will have to face off against:
- AFC North (obviously, because this is the Bengals' division). As every year, one game at home and one game away.
- AFC East (Jets rematch—could the third time be the charm?).
- NFC South.
Aside from the inter-division rivals, let us take a look at what is in store for the Bengals next year—and where:
- Buffalo Bills: Buffalo will be with a new coach and likely many new faces. Based upon this year's performance, a Bengals victory should be had here.
- Miami Dolphins: Depending on when this game is scheduled, the game could be more or less challenging. The Dolphins have improved and should only continue improving under Bill Parcell's organizational guidance, but this should be another Bengals victory.
- New Orleans Saints: The Saints are an enigma—they went undefeated for 13 weeks then stumbled into the playoffs losing the final three games of the 2009 season. Even though this is the case, the Bengals will likely lose this game unless significant offseason moves are made.
- Tampa Bay Buccaneers: Tampa Bay still has a long way to go and it is unlikely they will be up to snuff by the 2010 season, equalling a Bengals victory.
- San Diego Chargers: This will be a rematch in Cincinnati. Cincinnati should be able to win this game as long as a solid Chris Henry replacement is in place and the team is healthy.
- New England Patriots: The Patriots will have a lot of questions to answer this off season—most importantly replacing Wes Welker. Even though Welker could be back by next season, this injury—which is similar to Carson Palmer's in 2005—is more significant to a wide receiver. Welker will likely need a replacement, which New England should have no problem finding. The Bengals, however, have an excellent track record playing the Patriots under Marvin Lewis, and I see this as a Bengals victory—assuming a healthy team is present.
- New York Jets: This will be a rematch in the Meadowlands. Mark Sanchez will be in his second year and will be only stronger. There is no reason to think Rex Ryan's defense will be anything but better. The Bengals likely will lose this game.
- Atlanta Falcons: The Falcons were second in their division to the Saints at 9-7, but more importantly, were 6-2 at home. Despite the "on-paper" home record, the Falcons faced a cake-walk of inferior opponents. This should be a close game but the Bengals should walk away with the victory.
- Carolina Panthers: There are a lot of open questions with the Panthers for next season—such as if coach John Fox will be leaving and if Bill Cowher will be the coach. The Panthers were a so-so home team at 5-3. Even with a coaching switch, the Bengals should win this game.
- Indianapolis Colts: If the Colts are playing the way they played this season (i.e., Peyton Manning is continuing his Hall of Fame career on the current pace) and the playoffs have not been clinched yet (even with a perfect record) then the Bengals lose this game.
As far as the AFC North goes, the Bengals certainly can win all of their home games and should continue winning in Cleveland—even with the new Mike Holmgren-built regime (though watch out). The 2009 sweep of division opponents would be wishful thinking, as the Ravens are sure to not allow a repeat. The Steelers could lose at home again, but this depends on what happens in the offseason. The Bengals should go 4-2 against division opponents.
Predicted 2010 Record: 11-5
For the rest of the NFL scheduled matchups, see NFL.com at: http://www.nfl.com/news/story?id=09000d5d8157a75c&template=with-video-with-comments&confirm=true
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