After a Super Bowl run, many expected to see the Bengals in multiple primetime games, and they’re correct. Cincinnati will be featured in five primetime contests this upcoming season.
Let’s take a look at the matchups.
Week 4: Thursday Night Football vs. Miami Dolphins
Getting the Thursday Night Football matchup out of the way early in the season can have its advantages. Hopefully, both teams are still relatively healthy, but the “mini bye week” after the game can help give players some rest after being full go for a month. A home contest against the Miami Dolphins will give us the long awaited professional matchup of Tua Tagovailoa and Joe Burrow. The two had a classic battle in college, but the season-ending knee injury for Burrow in 2020 cost us their first pro matchup. Miami comes in with newly acquired weapon Tyreek Hill and a stable of running backs who will try to keep up with the Bengal offense on the national stage.
Week 5: Sunday Night Football vs. Baltimore Ravens
Two prime time games in as many weeks, with the latter being a divisional showdown against the Baltimore Ravens at their place. Cincinnati beat Baltimore in convincing fashion twice last year, and we shouldn’t expect Baltimore to forget it. Former defensive coordinator Wink Martindale poked the bear before the second matchup, leading Burrow to throw a franchise record 525 yards against the Ravens’ covid ravished squad. Baltimore coach John Harbaugh appeared to bring up the last deep shot of the game to Zac Taylor during their postgame handshake. The first matchup against a Baltimore team that should be much healthier this year than last will certainly be must see TV.
Week 8: Monday Night Football vs. Cleveland Browns
A Halloween showdown in Week 8 will feature another divisional matchup on the road, as the Bengals travel to Cleveland to take on the Browns on Monday Night Football. Coming off a season where the Browns swept Cincinnati, most Bengal players will remember the earlier matchup more than Week 18, where many Bengal starters rested after clinching the division the prior week. In Week 9 of last season, Cleveland came into Cincinnati and handed the Bengals a 41-16 drubbing, led by the rushing attack of Nick Chubb and the arm of recently departed quarterback Baker Mayfield. With Mayfield gone and the embattled Deshaun Watson now in town, the matchup could look very different from the last handful of seasons. Of course, Watson’s status is still up in the air as he deals with legal issues that still could result in a suspension this season.
Week 11: Sunday Night Football vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
The trend of divisional games on the road in prime time continues with a showdown in Pittsburgh. Playing the Steelers on the road on Sunday Night Football means that all three road games in the division will take place in prime time. We can expect things to look vastly different than the matchups we’ve seen over the last decade or so. Longtime quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is gone, with not many Bengal fans sad to see him go. This time around, we don’t know if we’ll see Mitchell Trubisky or Kenny Pickett taking snaps for Pittsburgh. The Bengals have fared well against the rival Steelers over the last three meetings, with a chance to continue the dominance in Week 1. As Week 11 rolls around, a chance to beat the Steelers with the world watching looms.
Week 17: Monday Night Football vs. Buffalo Bills
Finally, a home Monday Night Football game! This should be an electric matchup, with two of the brightest young quarterbacks in the game meet for the world to see. Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills will come to The Queen City for what should be a phenomenal game. Allen and Burrow haven’t had the chance to meet in the NFL yet, but this one could result in fireworks. Scheduling the game for so late in the season makes you think the league expects it to have heavy playoff implications. As long as the teams stay healthy and continue the pace from last season, “The Jungle” should be loud as the two teams clash with seeding and potential first-round byes on the line.