<
>

Examining the Bengals' 2015 road opponents: Raiders

3/31/2015

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 later this month. Despite that, though, we do already know who they will be playing and where.

So across the next several days, we're examining each of those opponents in this really early series of blogs. Up next, the Oakland Raiders:

2014 record: 3-13

2014 finish: Didn't make playoffs; finished last in AFC West

Key losses: RB Darren McFadden, LB Nick Roach, LB Lamarr Woodley, QB Matt Schaub, DT Pat Sims (pictured)

Key additions: DB Nate Allen, OG Rodney Hudson, LB Curtis Lofton, RB Trent Richardson, QB Christian Ponder, TE Lee Smith

Series history:Bengals trail, 9-20 (includes two playoff losses)

Last time vs. Bengals: Cincinnati won 34-10 in quarterback Carson Palmer's return to Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 25, 2012.

Really early scouting report: With a new head coach (Jack Del Rio), change has once again come to Oakland. This is the ninth coaching change the franchise has made since 2002, the last year it had a winning record. It goes without saying that at this early stage of the offseason, the Raiders are expected to struggle.

Obviously, that will work to the Bengals' advantage as they make one of two trips to California this season. They're also scheduled to play the 49ers in the Bay Area. San Francisco also is going through its share of transition, so on paper, the Bengals probably will be favored in that game, too. As for the Raiders, the earlier in the season the better. You have to figure it takes the Raiders a few weeks before getting comfortable under Del Rio, if it even happens. The last two coaches combined for 11 wins over the past three seasons.

This game will be a reunion of sorts for Sims, the newest Bengal who actually began his career in Cincinnati before spending the past two seasons with the Raiders. The defensive tackle was signed for his second stint with the Bengals last week.