- Coley Harvey, ESPN Staff Writer
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CINCINNATI -- The start of the 2015 season is still five months away, but that doesn't mean we can't begin breaking down the Cincinnati Bengals' schedule.
The NFL's official schedule hasn't been released yet, so we won't know the Bengals' official kickoff times and dates until sometime later this month. But we do know who they will be playing and where.
We've been examining each of those opponents in this really early series. Up next, the Houston Texans:
2014 record: 9-7
2014 finish: Didn't make playoffs; finished second in AFC South
Series history: Bengals trail, 5-4 (includes two playoff losses)
Last time vs. Bengals: Cincinnati won 22-13 at NRG Stadium on Nov. 23, 2014.
Really early scouting report: Houston wasn't too far off last season from the postseason, needing a few dominoes to fall in the final week of the regular season to help them get to the playoffs as a wild card. The dominoes didn't fall and they missed the postseason for a second straight season. As they enter Year 3 under coach Bill O'Brien, though, they could be positioned to make their playoff return.
They'll likely have to do it as a wild card, though, as Indianapolis appears to have the typically weak AFC South locked down once again.
Quarterback still appears to be an area of concern for the Texans, despite their addition of Hoyer this offseason to provide competition for Ryan Mallett and Tom Savage. Otherwise, Arian Foster still is their star running back, and the additions of Shorts and Washington are expected to help absorb the anticipated blow from losing the veteran Johnson. Defensively, there ought to be no issues of concern for the Texans, particularly up front. Wilfork's signing makes an already good defensive line tremendously better. Houston should have no problems getting after quarterbacks this year.
Which means for a second consecutive season, the Bengals' offensive linemen will be circling their date with the Texans on the calendar. Just as seriously as they took the challenge of stopping J.J. Watt and Jadeveon Clowney last season, the linemen will have to feel the same way about stopping Houston with Wilfork's addition. Overall, the Bengals had a solid game plan last season at NRG Stadium, a place they had struggled in three previous appearances there. Cincinnati also hasn't fared all that well of late in games at Paul Brown Stadium during this series. Their last home win over the Texans came in 2005.
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