Browns vs. Bengals to open season

BY foxsports • April 19, 2011

Assuming there is an NFL season in 2011 and that it starts on time, the Browns and Bengals are going to get right to business.

By playing each other.

The season for both Ohio teams starts and ends with AFC North Division games. The Browns don't play Pittsburgh until Dec. 8 then play the Steelers twice in the final four weeks. The first one, a Thursday-nighter, is the only national TV game either the Browns are Bengals have on the schedule.

The second Battle of Ohio is set for Thanksgiving Weekend in Cincinnati.

When it comes to the opener, recent history is not on the Browns' side. They're 1-11 in season-openers since returning to the league. All but last year's have been played at home. The Browns and Bengals last met in an opener in 2005, when the Bengals kicked off an 11-5 division championship year with a 27-13 win at Cleveland in Romeo Crennel's first game as Browns coach.

Two coaches and five quarterbacks later, Pat Shurmur and Colt McCoy will be hoping to start a new trend of early-season success for the Browns, who pick sixth in the first round of next week's NFL Draft. The Bengals pick fourth.

The Bengals’ first three games will be against teams with new head coaches as they follow the Cleveland opener with a trip to Denver then play their latest home-opener ever Sept. 25 against the 49ers. The Bengals open with back-to-back road games for the first time since 1986 and close with two home games, vs. Arizona and Baltimore, for the first time since 1997.

The Bengals ran the table in the AFC North Division en route to an 11-5 season in 2009 but suffered through a 10-game losing streak last year before winning two of their last three to finish 4-12.

The Browns, 5-11 in each of the last two years under Eric Mangini,  play at Indianapolis in Week Two, then play what would seem to be winnable home games vs. a pair of teams in transition, Miami and Tennessee.

The Browns' brutal closing stretch goes at Cincinnati, Baltimore, at Pittsburgh, at Arizona, at Baltimore on Christmas Even then home for the Steelers.

BLOG: Sizing up the AFC North schedule

THE SCHEDULES: For both the Bengals and Browns

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