NFL Nation: 2012 NFL schedule analysis

Breakdown: Don't play that lack of respect card this year Who Dey nation. After not making a prime-time appearance last season, the Bengals were rewarded with three after a surprising run to the playoffs. The last time the Bengals had more prime-time games was 2007, when they had four.

Cincinnati opens the season on Monday night at Baltimore, plays a home Sunday night game against Pittsburgh on Oct. 21 and a Thursday night game at Philadelphia on Dec. 13. The most shocking part of the Bengals' schedule is that the return of Carson Palmer to Paul Brown Stadium on Nov. 25 isn't on national television.

The Bengals will find out where they stand in the AFC North early -- four division games are in the first seven weeks of the season. Cincinnati then goes nine weeks without facing an AFC North team until it finishes at Pittsburgh and home against Baltimore.

Complaint department: There really isn't much to complain about. Four of the Bengals' first six games are on the road. But that could also be considered the easy part of the schedule, with only one of those road games against a playoff team from last season. After playing at Baltimore, the Bengals travel to Washington, Jacksonville and Cleveland.

Sellout streak?: It's no secret that the Bengals have had trouble selling tickets. Only two home games last season weren't blacked out (and one was the result of a "buy one, get one free" promotion). But there's no excuse for a lack of sellouts this year. The Bengals have a three-game home stretch in the middle of the season when Ben Roethlisberger, Peyton Manning and Eli Manning come to town. If the Bengals can't pack the stadium for those games, there's a major problem in Cincinnati.

Bengals Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, at Baltimore, 7:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Jacksonville, 4:05 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Miami, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Oakland, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at San Diego, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Thursday, Dec. 13, at Philadelphia, 8:20 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Breakdown: The Ravens will show the nation if they're ready to make a run at the Super Bowl. Three of Baltimore's first four games are on national television, including the season-opener against the Cincinnati Bengals on "Monday Night Football."

Baltimore has a strong shot at opening strong and finishing the same way. The Ravens play three of their first four games at home and three December games at M&T Bank Stadium, where they went undefeated last season.

Both playoff rematches from a season ago come in the first half of 2012. The Ravens face the New England Patriots at home on Sept. 23 and play at the Houston Texans on Oct. 21, their final game before their Week 8 bye.

Complaint department: As a result of a lot of home games early and late, the Ravens are on the road for a large portion in between. Baltimore plays one game at home in November. The Ravens finish the month with their grudge match at Pittsburgh before flying across the country to San Diego, where they lost 34-14 last season.

Quarterback challenge: The Ravens face seven Pro Bowl quarterbacks in their final eight games. Those quarterbacks total 22 Pro Bowls: Carson Palmer (two); Ben Roethlisberger (two), who faces Baltimore twice in this stretch; Philip Rivers (four); Peyton Manning (11), Eli Manning (two) and Andy Dalton (one). They also account for five Super Bowl titles.

Ravens Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Monday, Sept. 10, Cincinnati, 7:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, New England, 8:20 PM
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 27, Cleveland, 8:20 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Houston, 1:00 PM
Week 8: BYE
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, at Cleveland, 1:00 PM
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, Oakland, 1:00 PM
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Pittsburgh, 8:20 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, at San Diego, 4:05 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Pittsburgh, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Denver, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Breakdown: The Cleveland Browns knew it wasn't going to be easy. Cleveland has the third-toughest strength of schedule and the hardest for non-playoff teams.

The good news for the Browns is they open at home, playing host to the Philadelphia Eagles. The bad news is what follows. Cleveland plays three of the next four games on the road and all come against teams that made the playoffs last season (Cincinnati Bengals, Baltimore Ravens and the Super Bowl champion New York Giants).

If the Browns can survive that tough stretch, they catch a break by playing three of four games at home before entering their bye. But their softest part of the schedule comes at the start of December, when the Browns play at Oakland and at home against Kansas City.

Complaint department: The NFL schedule makers didn't do the Browns any favors to end the season. Cleveland finishes the regular season at Denver and at Pittsburgh. That's consecutive road games against Peyton Manning and Ben Roethlisberger. Cleveland is a combined 1-19 against them.

Not prime-time players: Luckily for the Browns, NFL commissioner Roger Goodell guaranteed one national television game for each team this season. If not, the Browns might not have received any prime-time exposure. Cleveland's only time on national television is a Thursday night game at Baltimore on Sept. 27. The Browns know they have to earn more prime-time games.

Browns Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, Philadelphia, 1:00 PM
Week 2: Sunday, Sept. 16, at Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, Buffalo, 1:00 PM
Week 4: Thursday, Sept. 27 at Baltimore, 8:20 PM
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, at NY Giants, 1:00 PM
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Cincinnati, 1:00 PM
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Indianapolis, 1:00 PM
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, San Diego, 1:00 PM
Week 9: Sunday, Nov. 4, Baltimore, 1:00 PM
Week 10: BYE
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Dallas, 1:00 PM
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, at Oakland, 4:15 PM
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, Kansas City, 1:00 PM
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Washington, 1:00 PM
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Denver, 4:05 PM
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Pittsburgh, 1:00 PM

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