Bengals playing (time) zones

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A.J. Green had a 21-yard TD catch in the 17-10 win in San Diego in 2013, the Bengals' third straight win on The Coast.

With the Bengals staring at four games in the Pacific and Mountain Time zones during the upcoming season, they could be looking at their first week-long road trip in their 13 years under head coach Marvin Lewis.

Teams can ask the NFL to consider scheduling back-to-back road games in certain locales so they can alleviate jet lag by staying after the first game and not returning home while preparing for the second. It's enough of a rarity that the Bengals may very well explore such a request for a schedule that is usually released in mid-April.

Four games in the two most distant time zones are the most on their schedule in 21 years, when the 1994 Bengals went 1-3 on trips to Seattle, San Diego, Arizona and Denver.

And it's only happened twice in their history. The 1990 Bengals won the AFC Central Division splitting the difference with wins in San Diego and Los Angeles and losses in Los Angeles and Seattle when L.A. housed both the Raiders and the Rams. Their season ended with a fifth West Coast game when the Raiders won an AFC Divisional playoff game in The Coliseum.

Since the AFC North has drawn the AFC West and NFC West this season, the Bengals aren't alone. Both Cincinnati and Baltimore are playing in Denver, Oakland, Arizona, and San Francisco. Pittsburgh and Cleveland only drew two of the games on the road and both travel to Seattle and San Diego.

The West Coast swings mean a couple of things. It's going to be extremely difficult to see a repeat of 2014, when three North teams made the playoffs, and the division games are more valuable than usual.

Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is 2-7 in Pacific and Mountain games since he took over in 2007. In that same stretch the Browns are 1-7 and that win in Oakland was so long ago (2012) that both quarterbacks, Cleveland's Brandon Weeden and Oakland's Carson Palmer, are on different teams.

In his seven seasons coaching the Ravens, John Harbaugh is 4-3 in Pacific and Mountain games, including a playoff win in Denver.

Fair?

Unfair?

Denver, Oakland, and San Francisco all have new coaching staffs while Seattle is the two-time defending NFC champion with the biggest home-field advantage in the game. And San Diego quarterback Philip Rivers has a .694 winning percentage at home.

Under Lewis, the Bengals are 4-8 in both time zones. After losing eight of his first nine games out there, Lewis has seen his club win three straight, beginning with a 2011 win in Seattle before they beat Rivers back-to-back in 2012 and 2013.

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