The NFL regular-season schedule will be released sometime this month. There’s no set date yet as to when it will be finalized, though, because the four makers of each club’s 16-game slate have to work around different roadblocks and requests.
One such request is from the Cincinnati Bengals.
Owner Mike Brown wants to start the regular season at Paul Brown Stadium for the first time since 2009.
Brown says Bengals have reached out to NFL to open at home, which haven't done in Green-Dalton Era
— Geoff Hobson (@GeoffHobsonCin) March 29, 2017
Chalk this one up as a justifiable desire. The Bengals have started on the road seven straight years, the longest active streak in the NFL by three seasons (Giants, Packers, Vikings).
The last time PBS hosted a season-opener, Carson Palmer and Kyle Orton squared off in a memorable low-scoring affair. Known as the “tip-game” around southwest Ohio, the Bengals busted a Denver shutout on a Cedric Benson one-yard touchdown with 38 seconds left that seemingly put Cincinnati at 1-0.
On the Broncos’ next drive, however, Orton launched a deep pass up the left sideline. It was tipped in the air by Leon Hall and landed right in the hands of wide receiver Brandon Stokley, who raced 87 yards to pull off the 12-7 stunner in Josh McDaniels‘ first game as a head coach.
The silver lining is that the Bengals went on to win the AFC North that year. But not before some early-season suffering.
Don’t fix what’s not broken?
Starting the season on the road hasn’t been that bad to the Bengals. Last year, they rallied in East Rutherford to edge the Jets by a point, extending a streak of three straight season-opening victories.
Cincinnati is 4-2 in openers during the Dalton-Green era. Winning in Cleveland in 2011, Baltimore in 2014, Oakland in 2015 to go along with last year’s victory over Gang Green.
Also, it’s a matter of getting road games out of the way early. For a team hoping to be in contention (like the Bengals are), a road game in week one could mean a home matchup with playoff implications in December.
But, pleading for week one at home is about getting off to a hot start. In 2016, only five teams had a better record on the road than at home, two of them went to the Super Bowl.
No matter where week one is played, the Bengals do have a favorable list of opponents in 2017. Plus, Cincinnati’s travel plans next season, compared to 2016, are not too strenuous.
Last year, the Bengals traveled over nine thousand miles, including two trips to New Jersey, Texas, and a nearly 4,000-mile trek across the pond to play Washington. The team’s frequent flyer miles won’t rack up this season, only traveling 4,500 total miles, with a quarter of them coming on a trip to Denver.
Only time will tell if the Bengals get their wish. Reportedly, the NFL is planning its schedule release somewhere between April 17-21.