The Bengals were a surprise playoff team in 2011, earning the AFC's sixth and final spot with a 9-7 record. They got to the postseason for the second time in three years because they beat the teams they were supposed to, going 8-1 against squads that finished with .500 or below records.
It would be tough to ask for that kind of schedule help again this season. If the Bengals are going to be better this season they're going to have to find a way to beat the better teams, starting with the two perennial powers in their own division, Pittsburgh and Baltimore. Cincinnati went 0-4 against the Steelers and Ravens last season.
“Losing some games last year at the end of the year, especially against Baltimore and Pittsburgh, it seems like you learn what it really takes to really beat those teams as opposed to you have no clue going into it,” said cornerback Leon Hall. “You think it's a regular game, but especially with those two teams, it's just a little different. A little more physical. It's just one of those things that sometimes you've got to go through it to learn."
The Bengals open their season Monday night in Baltimore.
“I think for us to play really good teams like that every year twice a year and for this team and thisoffense and everybody to get to where we want to be, we've got to find ways to beat those teams,” said quarterback Andy Dalton. “We've got to do whatever it takes to find ways to win.”
The Bengals lost at Baltimore, 31-24, and at home against the Ravens in the final game of the regular season, 24-16. They turned the ball over four times against Baltimore, which the Ravens turned into 21 points, while forcing just one turnover themselves.
“Turnovers have been the key to this series,” said head coach Marvin Lewis. “You have to possess the football. It's the recipe of the AFC North.”
Cincinnati's lone victory against a team with a winning record last season was at Tennessee.
It proved the difference in securing the postseason berth as both teams finished 9-7.
Injury update: Running back Bernard Scott (hand) said Wednesday he will not play in Monday's opener. BenJarvus Green-Ellis, listed on the first team on the depth chart, played in just one preseason game because of a toe strain but is expected to start against Baltimore. Backups Brian Leonard and Cedric Peerman are healthy.
Green-Ellis said he's healthy and expects to do whatever the coaches ask of him.
Because the game is Monday the first official injury report will be released Thursday but defensive end Carlos Dunlap (knee) and cornerback Dre Kirkpatrick also did not practice on Wednesday.
Twitter back online: Lewis' ban on players using Twitter has been lifted. The Bengals' head coach laid down the law against the social media outlet during training camp, saying he wanted the players to stay focused on their jobs.
“I think it's the right thing to do as long as they handle it the correct way and go about our business correctly,” said Lewis. “Social media is a great link to reach out to the fans, the season ticket holders and so forth both locally and nationally. We were able to come to that conclusion.”
Practice squad move: Defensive end DeQuin Evans was signed to the practice squad Wednesday. Evans, a first-year player from the University of Kentucky, was part of the final cuts last Friday. He spent last season on the practice squad.
Kevin Goheen contributed to this report. Follow Paul Dehner Jr. for Bengals updates on Twitter at @CBSSportsNFLCIN.