Two of the Bengals’ prime-time games will be at Paul Brown Stadium, a Sept. 29 matchup against the Miami Dolphins on Thursday Night Football and a Jan. 2 outing against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football.
The other three are on the road against AFC North opponents in a six-week span, marking the first time the Bengals have had all their away division games in prime time. They play at Baltimore on Sunday night, Oct. 9, then on Monday Night Football at Cleveland on Oct. 31 and back to Sunday Night Football at Pittsburgh on Nov. 20.
2. Another home opener
For a third straight season, the Bengals open at home, this time kicking off the regular season against AFC North rival Pittsburgh on Sept. 11. It will mark the first time in team history that Cincinnati has opened its regular season against the Steelers.
The Bengals swept the Steelers last year for the first time since 2009 and have won three straight in the series for the first time in more than 30 years, a winning streak they hope to continue.
Cincinnati beat the Minnesota Vikings in the opener at home last year, a 27-24 win, and lost Joe Burrow’s debut in 2020 against the L.A. Chargers, 16-13. The Bengals close the regular season with four of the final games at home, including the finale against Baltimore.
3. Tough stretch at end
The schedule opens against four teams that missed the playoffs last season and gets more difficult at the end.
Three of the last four games are against 2021 playoff teams, including Dec. 18 at Tampa Bay, which is a 4:25 p.m. game with potential to flex into Sunday Night. The Bengals also face the Patriots in that stretch on Dec. 24 at New England and the Bills on Jan. 2.
Buffalo just missed the AFC Championship game last year, falling in overtime against Kansas City in the divisional round, after beating New England 47-17 in a wild card game. The Bucs exited the playoffs in the NFC divisional round against the eventual champion L.A. Rams, losing 30-27.
The back half of the schedule in total features five playoff teams from last year in the final eight games, adding in Tennessee (Nov. 27) and Kansas City (Dec. 4), both opponents the Bengals beat en route to the Super Bowl.
4. Good timing for extra rest
The Bengals have their bye in Week 10, following a Nov. 6 game against Carolina at home, and it’s a good time to rest up midseason. They come back to play at Pittsburgh the next week, then head into the Tennessee road game and Kansas City home game.
They also have a mini-bye after the Thursday Night game Sept. 29 against the Dolphins in Week 4. Their next game after that isn’t until Oct. 9, but that’s a big one to prepare for, traveling to Baltimore.
5. Intriguing matchups
There are plenty of intriguing individual matchups and storylines this season.
Former LSU stars Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase head back to the Bayou when the team travels to New Orleans to play the Saints on Oct. 16. Burrow versus Tom Brady happens against the Bucs on Dec. 18, and it might be the only time the two face each other as Brady nears retirement.
The Jan. 2 game against Josh Allen and the Bills happens a year to the day after the Bengals beat Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs for the AFC North title. The rematch against Kansas City, who the Bengals swept in the regular season and AFC Championship last year, will be one to watch Dec. 4.