To open up their 2021 NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals will host an inter-conference meeting with the Minnesota Vikings. In their all-new white jerseys and pants, they’ll be led by quarterback Joe Burrow, making his regular season return nine full months removed from reconstructive knee surgery.
New season. New uniforms. New knee. But will the end result be new as well?
It’s been six years since the Bengals had a winning season. It’s been three years since they won their season opener. Now’s as good a time as any to buck both trends.
To start, they’ll face the Vikings, coached by an old friend in Mike Zimmer. The penultimate time he was coaching a regular season game in Paul Brown Stadium, Zimmer was calling defensive plays against the franchise that would hire him to run their entire team. Minnesota made Zimmer their ninth head coach in team history just a few weeks later.
Zimmer’s won more than he’s lost up north, but his current roster has a lot of questions surrounding it. Can young stars Dalvin Cook and Justin Jefferson repeat their dynamic 2020 performances? How much does Patrick Peterson have left in the tank at his new digs?
Will Kirk Cousins walk out onto the field surrounded by plexiglass?
Minnesota came out victorious the last time they played Cincinnati in 2017, but just five Bengals who played in that late December game remain with the team, and two of them are specialists. That’s the nature of divisions from opposing conferences playing one another every four years; more than just the president can change.
For the good guys, this is more than just the return of Burrow. This is the first time the Bengals can open the season in front of fans since 2017. 65,000 will get to witness Burrow conduct a spry offensive system, a new-look defense, and all of the new in-game presentation spearheaded by Elizabeth Blackburn and director of content Seth Tanner.
It’s an exciting time to follow the Bengals, and if you’re wanting to follow their first game, this story stream is the place to be.