The Bengals kick off their 50th anniversary season with not one but back-to-back home games to start the year for the first time since 1983 when the NFL released a schedule Thursday that features AFC North rival Baltimore at PBS on Sept. 10 to be followed quickly by the Texans in town on Sept. 14 for a Thursday night 8:25 NFL Network game.
For the first time ever, the Bengals are launching single-game ticket sales for the opener simultaneously with the schedule release and are available now at Bengals.com/tickets.
For the seventh time in eight years they close the season with the Ravens on the last day of the year, but it’s the first time the season finale is in Baltimore since 2010.
In between the Bengals have an Oct. 15 bye, play three straight on the road from Oct. 22-Nov. 5, three straight at home from Nov. 26-Dec. 10, and play four of their last six games at home.
ESPN’s Monday night game against the Steelers at PBS on Dec. 4 is one of two prime-time slots, their fewest since they had none in 2011, the rookie years of the unproven Green and Dalton.
But even though they have since led the Bengals to their most successful stretch in history with 58 wins in the past six years, they couldn’t get a home opener until now. The last one came on Sept. 13, 2009 in that improbable last-second loss to Denver.
“We are excited to kick-off our 50th season at home, and to accommodate fans, we are making single-game tickets to the home opener versus the Baltimore Ravens available now,” Blackburn said in a news release. “This will be a special year commemorating our 50th season, and having two nationally televised prime-time games at Paul Brown Stadium adds to the enthusiasm.”
The Green-Dalton Bengals have actually done well in road openers with a 4-2 record and three straight, two of them won in the fourth quarter. But this gives everyone a lift.
“Finally,” Dalton said. “It’s going to be great to have that crowd with us. The opener is always loud, it’s a new year and people are pumped. Now they’re on our side.”
“I think it’s exciting not only for us, but for the city,” Boling said. “Not many of us have been able to open the season at home, so that will be a little extra. Opening on the road, that’s definitely a tough environment.”
Two stretches caught Dalton’s eye, the three straight games in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Denver, as well as three of the season’s final four games coming against the NFC North.
“We’re going to have to be ready for that stretch in November but it’s good it’s followed up with three straight at home,’ said Dalton of a PBS run of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Chicago. “I’m surprised to see us finish with the NFC North. I thought we’d be playing AFC teams at that point.”
But that could bode well. Dalton is 3-1 vs. the NFC North with 11 touchdowns and three interceptions for a 120.3 passer rating. After facing the Bears at home Dec. 10, they go to Minnesota Dec. 17 before coming back home for 1 p.m. Christmas Eve game against the Lions.
The game in Minnesota marks Dalton’s first appearance against old friend Mike Zimmer, the Vikings head coach and former Bengals defensive coordinator. That comes a month after facing new Broncos head coach Vance Joseph, a former Bengals secondary coach.
“I don’t think it’s an advantage either way,” Dalton said. “I enjoyed being around both guys. We know them, they know us. We know what each other is about.”
The opening stretch is a test for the Bengals’ young tackles.
In the following three weeks they play at Green Bay, ranked seventh in sacks per pass, and host the Bills, ranked fourth. In between they travel to Cleveland for an Oct. 1 game that could pit Ogbuehi against the NFL’s projected overall top pick in Texas A&M right end Myles Garrett.
“We have the opportunity to get off to a fast start with back-to-back home games to open the season,” said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in the news release. “It will be a challenge playing three road games in a row in November, but I’m excited to close the season with four of our last six games at home.”
During Weeks 10-15 and 17, all Sunday games are subject to possible flex among the three standard kickoff times -- early afternoon, late afternoon and night. Additionally, in Weeks 5-9, flexible scheduling may be used in no more than two weeks.
TV broadcasts of the Bengals’ two games on cable will also be simulcast in Cincinnati by a local non-cable station, yet to be determined.
BENGALS SEASON TICKETS ON SALE
Season tickets are now available through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383 or toll-free at (866) 621-8383, online at Bengals.com or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office. Fans can call the Bengals Ticket Hotline Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 6 p.m., and on Saturday from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. The ticket office is open Monday through Friday from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Season Tickets start at $400 and flexible payment plan options are available. Fans can call the hotline to schedule an appointment to view available seats.
BENGALS INTRODUCE DYNAMIC TICKET PRICING
The Bengals are introducing dynamic ticket pricing with the launch of single-game tickets for the Ravens home opener. All single-game ticket values may be adjusted up or down based on real-time market conditions and consumer demand to set the right price at the right time.
Season tickets continue to offer the most significant savings over single-game pricing and are not affected by dynamic ticket pricing. Dynamically priced single-game tickets never move below season ticket prices and generally grow over time as inventory decreases. Fans that purchase tickets early are more likely to get the best value.
On-sale dates for single-game tickets for the remaining games will be determined at a future date.