The Bengals didn’t get to show off much during primetime in 2019. Not that they had much to show off during a 2-14 season anyway, but the addition of first overall pick Joe Burrow sure did put the Bengals in the news cycle quite a bit over the last few months.
The team drafting one of the most popular players in football had some speculating that the team may see a few more chances to show off in front of the country. Add in the fact they play some games with very interesting story lines, and there was reason to believe Cincinnati could have a handful of games under the lights.
It seems like the NFL threw the Bengals a chance to at least show that their usual primetime struggles are a thing of the past. They have two games scheduled in primetime, and they also have a home opener that is scheduled at 4:05 PM, which will probably feel like one considering what last season was like
Here are the primetime games for the Bengals in 2020:
- Bengals at Browns: Week 2, Sep. 17th (Thursday Night Football)
- Bengals vs. Steelers: Week 15, Dec. 21st (Monday Night Football)
Cincinnati has plenty of history with both of these teams. Pittsburgh especially creates plenty of drama. The Bengals and Steelers often took that rivalry off the field, which made it even more compelling, but that was a different era. This will be the second time Burrow will have a shot at them, but it will be his first chance to host them.
The Bengals managed to avoid Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger last year, as a season-ending elbow injury kept him out for both matchups. The Steelers still managed to sweep Cincinnati with Mason Rudolph and Devlin Hodges at quarterback, but the Bengals didn’t have A.J. Green for either matchup, and Ryan Finley started the game in Cincinnati, a 16-10 win for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers won their home matchup 27-3, which was also on Monday Night Football. That was when Andy Dalton was still starting.
The Bengals will be looking to end a 10-game losing streak to the Steelers when the two face off next season. Cincinnati hasn’t been Pittsburgh since the middle of the 2015 season, so hopefully Joe Burrow can help end that streak in Year 1.
The Browns usually play the Bengals close no matter what the record of each team is. Cleveland is set to have a high powered offense with a new offensive coaching staff led by former Bengals’ quarterbacks’ coach Alex Van Pelt. Burrow vs. Baker Mayfield will be a rivalry we will see for a long time, so it makes sense to make the first installment one under the lights.
The Bengals managed to split the series with the Browns last year, losing at Cleveland 27-19 but winning at home 33-23, which was the regular-season finale. Cincinnati is 1-3 vs. the Browns since Baker Mayfield took over as the starting quarterback.
It usually would come as no surprise that the Bengals’ primetime games are against divisional opponents. However, this season they will also be playing Washington in Week 11 and the Dolphins in Week 13. Both of those games have huge Burrow narratives driving them. Washington drafted Chase Young, who went second overall after Burrow, and they also have Dwayne Haskins at quarterback. The Bengals had a shot to draft Haskins in the 2019 draft, but they opted to pass.
The Miami game will also be the first chance we get to see Burrow go against Tua Tagovailoa. He was the quarterback who everyone assumed would be the first quarterback taken at the beginning of the 2019 season. That will no doubt be the first installment of a very long running rivalry based on how the draft played out.
It seems as though the NFL is giving the Bengals a shot to prove they deserve more games under the bright lights of primetime, and it is always important to note that if Cincinnati plays well we could see one of their later games flexed into a primetime slot. We should also expect to see more of Cincinnati in important games if Burrow and the Bengals play well this season.