Why the Cincinnati Bengals’ season opener won’t be at home


CINCINNATI – With the entire 2014 NFL schedule rumored to be released next week, it is almost assured that the Bengals will open on the road for the fifth consecutive year, which will tie for the longest active streak of opening the season on the road. Only the Atlanta Falcons could find themselves in an identical situation if the league decides to send them on the road for Week 1 as well.

Since 2000, the Bengals have had six openers at Paul Brown Stadium compared to eight openers away from home. However, this is hardly abnormal. In fact, this ratio is the most common in the NFL. Having an even ratio of seven home to seven away actually occurs less frequently than the rate the Bengals have.

Does opening on the road versus at home affect Cincinnati’s ability to start off in the win column? Not entirely: the Bengals are 2-4 at home compared to 3-5 on the road in the same span.

Part of the reason the Bengals have had to open on the road is because Paul Brown Stadium and Great American Ball Park share some of the same parking facilities.

When football and baseball teams share the same lots, as is the case, for example, in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Dallas, the football team opens on the road when the baseball team has a game scheduled at home for the NFL’s first week. Since 2009, this has been true in Dallas, Pittsburgh, Detroit, and Cincinnati. However, there are exceptions to the rule. In 2011, Cincinnati opened in Cleveland as the Reds finished up a three-game series in Colorado.

In any event, the Reds will finish up a three-game series with the New York Mets at Great American Ball Park on Sunday, September 7 at 1:10 PM. Even a chance for a Monday night home opener – as was the case in 2007 when Cincinnati defeated Baltimore 27-20 – is shattered as the Reds are beginning another home series with the St. Louis Cardinals at 7:10 PM the next day.

The Bengals’ road opponents this season include Baltimore, Pittsburgh, Cleveland, Houston, New England, Tampa Bay, New Orleans, and Indianapolis. Given that Cincinnati’s preseason finale is against Indianapolis, it is safe to say the Colts won’t be seen on Opening Day.

Against the division, Cincinnati is 2-4 on the road. Against inter-conference opponents on the road, Cincinnati is 5-8. Against the NFC on the road, the Bengals are 0-3 with two losses in Chicago 1989 and 2013 and the other in St. Louis in 1996.

If the past is any indicator, maybe Cincinnati’s best shot is to open in Houston or New England.

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