The NFL has released its 2018 regular-season schedule. Here's a look at what's in store for the Cincinnati Bengals.
Breakdown: The Bengals quickly squashed their playoff chances last season by digging themselves into an 0-3 hole, and the NFL schedule certainly didn't do them any favors this year. The Bengals' first month features three road games, including back-to-back trips to the Panthers and Falcons, two teams that made the playoffs last year. That's in addition to a short week against a divisional opponent when they host the Ravens on a Thursday in Week 2.
The Bengals also have a difficult end to the season by finishing with three of the last four on the road, including a cross-country tip to visit the Chargers. That means the Bengals are going to have to quickly figure out their identity under new full-time offensive coordinator Bill Lazor and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin. It's certainly no easy task, and a huge challenge for a team that has missed the playoffs for the last two seasons.
A Burfict-less September: The Bengals will start their fourth straight season without Vontaze Burfict in the lineup. Burfict is suspended for four games, marking the third straight year he starts a season on suspension (he was injured to start the 2015 season). The Bengals have gone 5-5 in September during that time period. It's going to be a tough test for Austin to start his first year without one of the Bengals' best defenders, but it'll be even tougher to face a lineup of star-studded offenses in 2018. Six of the 10 teams that led the league in yards-per-game last year are on the Bengals' schedule.
Prime-time days are over: The Bengals' schedule features only one prime-time game: a Thursday night game at home against the Ravens in Week 2. This is the first time since 2011 that the Bengals do not have a Sunday or a Monday night game scheduled. That might work in the Bengals' favor, as they are a woeful 9-23 in the regular season in night games under Marvin Lewis. The Bengals have lost their last four prime-time games, including a Week 2 Thursday night game against the Texans last year that ultimately got offensive coordinator Ken Zampese fired. The Bengals have another schedule oddity: They'll close the preseason out against the Colts at home, and then turn around and play them on the road to open the season.
Strength of schedule: T-29th, .473
Bengals' Regular-Season Schedule (All times Eastern)
Week 1: Sunday, Sept. 9, at Indianapolis, 1 p.m.
Week 2: Thursday, Sept. 13, Baltimore, 8:20 p.m.
Week 3: Sunday, Sept. 23, at Carolina, 1 p.m.
Week 4: Sunday, Sept. 30, at Atlanta, 1 p.m.
Week 5: Sunday, Oct. 7, Miami, 1 p.m.
Week 6: Sunday, Oct. 14, Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.
Week 7: Sunday, Oct. 21, at Kansas City, 1 p.m.
Week 8: Sunday, Oct. 28, Tampa Bay, 1 p.m.
Week 9: BYE
Week 10: Sunday, Nov. 11, New Orleans, 1 p.m.
Week 11: Sunday, Nov. 18, at Baltimore, 1 p.m.
Week 12: Sunday, Nov. 25, Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 13: Sunday, Dec. 2, Denver, 1 p.m.
Week 14: Sunday, Dec. 9, at Los Angeles Chargers, 4:05 p.m.
Week 15: Sunday, Dec. 16, Oakland, 1 p.m.
Week 16: Sunday, Dec. 23, at Cleveland, 1 p.m.
Week 17: Sunday, Dec. 30, at Pittsburgh, 1 p.m.