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 schedule hasn't been released yet, so we won't know the Bengals' official kickoff times and dates until sometime later this month. But we do know who they will be playing and where.
We've been examining each of those opponents in this really early series. Up next, the San Diego Chargers:
2014 record: 9-7
2014 finish: Didn't make playoffs; finished third in AFC West
Series history: Bengals trail, 20-14 (includes a 1-1 playoff split)
Last time vs. Bengals: Cincinnati lost 27-10 in the wild-card round of the playoffs at Paul Brown Stadium on Jan. 5, 2014.
Really early scouting report: It won't erase their first-round postseason loss from two seasons ago, but beating the Chargers at home could perhaps help the Bengals get back to the playoffs this year.
This time around, the Chargers will have a slightly different look. Mathews won't be anchoring the Chargers' running attack after leaving for Philadelphia earlier this offseason, but Jones, who spent the last three seasons in Baltimore, will be stalking the field as a receiver and special-teams returner. The Bengals were so impressed with what they had seen over the course of Jones' tenure with the Ravens that they brought him in for a free-agent visit in March. Like the Chargers, the Bengals were in need of a veteran receiver who could participate on special teams. It was after the Cincinnati visit, though, that Jones went to San Diego, where he ultimately signed.
Other than a couple of other changes to their receiving corps and offensive line, the Chargers' offense is pretty much the same as last season. Despite failing to lead the Chargers to a playoff berth, Philip Rivers still had a rather strong season. He ranked among the top 10 quarterbacksin completion percentage, passing touchdowns, passing yards and QBR. Although he's 33 and entering the final stretch of his career, he doesn't appear to be slowing down. Expect more of the same from him as he goes for his fourth career win (in seven chances) over the Bengals later this year.