Just like any Cincinnati Bengals fans, Nate and Chris are growing more excited about the 2017 season each day. It’s a chance to atone for last year’s 6-9-1 faceplant and advance to the postseason for the seventh time in 9 years.
If Cincy is going to make it back to the playoffs though, they need to be able to win the tough games. They can’t just claim the gimme contests and then hope that someone else upsets Pittsburgh, Baltimore and whoever is leading the wild card race. The Bengals have the weapons this year to pull out wins against their best opponents. Time to make it happen.
Let’s hear the calls from the Bengal boys about which games will be toughest on the schedule.
Chris’ 5 Toughest Cincinnati Bengals Games
5. Houston Texans (9/14 @ Cincinnati): The Texans won the AFC South last year (albeit with only a 9-7 record). This game is also being played just four days after the Bengals’ opener against Baltimore. A reasonably tough opponent combined with a short turnaround is why I have this as my number five.
4. Green Bay Packers (9/24 @ Green Bay): Of all the games on my list, this one offers Cincinnati the greatest margin for error. It’s a non-con game against a tough opponent with an All-Pro quarterback. Here’s my biggest concern, though. If Cincy drops this game along with the Texans’ game from 10 days earlier, what kind of tone will that set for their season? It will do wonders for their confidence if they can put up a W against GB. But a 1-2 start is likely and could mean trouble.
3. Tennessee Titans (11/12 @ Tennessee): I was going back and forth between the Titans and Broncos for my No. 3 pick. I went with Tennessee because they are turning things around with superstars in the making in QB Marcus Mariota, first-round draft pick WR Corey Davis, and a cagey run defense that was second in the NFL last year (88.3 yards per game).
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (12/4 @ Cincinnati): Hopefully, rookies John Ross and Jake Elliott will have come into their own by early December and can make an impact on the passing and kicking games, respectively. An October win in Pittsburgh (see next entry) and this game looks more and more like a win for Cincinnati. But it will be tough either way.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (10/22 @ Pittsburgh): The Cincinnati Bengals need to at least split the games with Pittsburgh. If they don’t win here (which is likely), that puts enormous pressure on the December 4th game. (raises glass) Here’s to the offense and defense playing great in the toughest game of the season, pulling out a victory, and giving themselves the mental and divisional edge going forward.
Nate’s 5 Toughest Cincinnati Bengals Games
5. Houston Texans (9/14 @ Cincinnati): It’s a prime-time game under the lights at home in Week 2 against an AFC division champ that the Bengals have struggled against historically, especially in big games (remember the playoffs in 2011 & 2012). Houston had an elite defense last year without J.J. Watt, add Watt back in to the mix and this won’t be an easy game. Winning this game during a short week would be a huge confidence booster for this team and provide early momentum, especially if they beat the Ravens at home in Week 1 (which I think they will).
4. Baltimore Ravens (9/10 @ Cincinnati): It’s the first game of the season and the 1st home opener in the Dalton/Green era. This will actually be the first time the Bengals have opened at home since 2009, crazy right!? I think it will be important to get off to a fast start and the Bengals will be motivated to start the season strong, there will be a lot of excitement and emotion for this game and I think Cincy will come out with a victory in this important division game.
3. Baltimore Ravens (12/31 @ Baltimore): You’ve probably heard the saying, “It’s not how you start, but how you finish that matters.” We believe that. Our hopes are high that the Bengals will be in playoff contention late in the season and if they are this division game could have playoff implications.
2. Pittsburgh Steelers (10/22 @ Pittsburgh): I’ll make no bones about it, I hate the Steelers. They are the division champs from last season and the favorite to win this division again, winning at their place would be huge as it would most likely affect the division race and it would be oh so satisfying to leave Pittsburgh with W.
1. Pittsburgh Steelers (12/4 @ Cincinnati): I agree with Chris that the Bengals need to at least split games with Pittsburgh this year, but I think this game will be the toughest since it is a December game involving the 2 teams who I think will be at the top of the division come the home stretch. You never know what may happen when these two teams play each other but one thing I do know, sparks will fly and emotions will surely run high!