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Scouting the Schedule: Bengals

Posted by Albert Breer  July 14, 2010 12:57 PM

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As we mentioned this morning, we are now counting the days to training camp and, really, the start of the 2010 season. We've already been through some of the Patriots' subjects we'll be covering over the next month ... But really, all this is about the season and the 16 games ahead, right?

With that in mind, we're kicking off a 13-part series today looking at New England's 2010 opponents, one-by-one, so you can familiarize yourself with them. And to gather intel on those teams, we've reached out to those covering those teams on a day-to-day basis for insight. Each reporter answered the same questions, and we'll have one team a day here going forward.

Cincinnati seems like the place to start, with the Bengals coming to Foxborough in Week 1. Here's Cincinnati Enquirer reporter Joe Reedy's look at the defending AFC North champions ...

Where they're good: Defense. In Mike Zimmer's second season the Bengals finished fifth in total defense and were led by cornerbacks Johnathan Joseph and Leon Hall, who had six interceptions apiece. Running game is also strong with Cedric Benson and they are stacked at kick returner with Bernard Scott and possibly Adam Jones.

Big camp questions: Does Jordan Shipley or Andre Caldwell emerge as the third receiver? Can Adam Jones become the third cornerback? Has Antwan Odom (eight sacks in six games) recovered from last season's Achilles injury?

Needs to happen to win big: The passing game needs to produce. With the signing of Antonio Bryant and drafting of Jermaine Gresham and Shipley, Carson Palmer has been surrounded with plenty of weapons.

Where they stack up: With their draft and offseason acquisitions, the Bengals had a good offseason and would be the favorite in the division if it wasn't for the improvements the Ravens made. They could contend for back-to-back playoff appearances for the first time in 28 years, but the schedule is brutal this year.

News, analysis and commentary from Boston.com's staff writers and contributors, including Zuri Berry and Erik Frenz.

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