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Bengals to host Vikings in season opener

Mike Zimmer will make his long-awaited return to Paul Brown Stadium to face his former team.

Minnesota Vikings v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by John Grieshop/Getty Images

The NFL Week 1 slate has been released ahead of the full schedule reveal, and the Cincinnati Bengals’ season opener has been announced.

The Bengals will host the Minnesota Vikings for a 1:00 PM EST Week 1 matchup on September 12th.

Cincinnati and the rest of the AFC North will face the NFC North this year, so the Bengals will get one inter-conference matchup out of the way early.

There are plenty of storylines here. First and foremost, this is when Joe Burrow expects to return to the field for the first time since Week 11 of last season when he tore his left ACL and MCL. There’s been nothing to suggest that Burrow isn’t on pace to start the season on time, and he’ll have the 14th-ranked DVOA pass defense from 2020 awaiting him.

Mike Zimmer is still the one calling plays for that defense, and the former Bengals defensive coordinator will be returning to Paul Brown Stadium for the first time in a regular season game. He defeated the Bengals the first time he coached against them in 2017. Zimmer also recently hired Paul Guenther to his defensive staff. Guenther was Zimmer’s replacement in Cincinnati from 2014-2017.

Going back to Burrow, he’ll expect to have fifth-overall pick Ja’Marr Chase as his No. 1 receiver, and Chase will make his debut with his former running mate watching from the other sideline. Vikings’ stud receiver Justin Jefferson will look to build off his incredible rookie season last year by going punch for punch with Chase and Burrow.

Speaking of Jefferson, this was hilarious:

There’s going to be some player reunions happening as well. Riley Reiff and Trae Waynes will each make their Cincinnati debuts against their former teams, despite Waynes signing with the Bengals a year earlier. Mackensie Alexander is back with the Vikings after he left them for a one-year stint with the Bengals.

We’ll have the full schedule up and posted later today when it’s released. For now, what do you think about the Bengals opening their season vs. the Vikings? Let us know in the comments!