Primetime has not always been good to the Cincinnati Bengals. In fact, it’s been downright unfriendly.
Since 2003, the Bengals are 9-34 in the national spotlight. But maybe the tide is about to turn. Cincinnati went 1-1 in primetime games last year, including a 27-10 win over the hated Pittsburgh Steelers in week 15.
Thanks in large measure to an offense that promises to be one of the NFL’s best this year with names like Joe Burrow, Joe Mixon, Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, Cincinnati is slated for at least three primetime games this year.
That primetime schedule kicks off with a Week 4 Thursday night game at home against Jacksonville that promises to be one of the more interesting matchups of the season.
The Bengals will likely be led by last year’s overall No. 1 selection in Joe Burrow, assuming he is back from his ACL/MCL surgery, while the Jaguars could well feature Trevor Lawrence, this year’s No. 1 overall pick.
In addition, Jacksonville coach Urban Meyer, who led the Ohio State Buckeyes to a national championship in 2014, grew up as one of the Bengals’ biggest fans and probably knows as much as anyone about their respective strengths and weaknesses.
“First of all,” Meyer explained in a 2018 interview with Bengals.com, “I don’t keep a little eye on them. I keep a big eye on them.”
Next up is a Sunday night matchup in week 11 at the Las Vegas Raiders. According to Cynthia Frelund of NFL.com, this should be one of the more evenly-matched contests of the season, with Cincinnati projected at 6.3 wins this season and the Raiders at 6.1
The final scheduled primetime game of the schedule is at Denver on Sunday, December 19 at 9:05 p.m. This has the potential to be a particularly interesting game, if the Broncos are able to secure the services of Pro Bowl quarterback Aaron Rodgers, the NFL’s reigning Most Valuable Player.
Of course, depending on how the season goes, any of the final three games against the Ravens, Chiefs or Browns could be flexed to primetime. That would mean that the Bengals are in the hunt for the playoffs, and that Cincinnati is indeed heading in the right direction.