The Bengals 2022 schedule at a glance:
SEPT. 11 VS. STEELERS, 1 p.m. at PBS: Now Joe Burrow is the Ohio-bred quarterback in the rivalry that seems to be shifting with the Bengals' three-game winning streak and Ben Roethlisberger's retirement.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Bengals defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo vs. the new Steelers quarterback. Pittsburgh head coach Mike Tomlin is one of the best. Better get him early. Three of the Bengals' eight wins against him are in September.
SEPT. 18 AT DALLAS, 4:25 p.m.: The last time the Bengals were in Jerry's World, Burrow was at Ohio State and Zac Taylor was at the University of Cincinnati. Now they're carrying the AFC banner against one of the NFC's top teams. It also pits last year's NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year, Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase, against Cowboys linebacker Micah Parsons, last year's NFL Defensive ROY.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Parsons vs. Bengals MLB Logan Wilson. Parsons is a monster, but the Bengals feel like they also have one of the top backers in the game in Wilson and he'll have to have his defense ready for quarterback Dak Prescott's offense that finished first last season in yards and points.
SEPT. 25 AT JETS, 1 p.m.: A return to last season's 34-31 Halloween loss when the Jets, down 11, scored 14 screaming points in less than a minute. But the Bengals are much more battled tested now and they'll see Zach Wilson at quarterback for the first time instead of the unknown Mike White.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams against old friend Carl Lawson. Lawson, the relentless edge rusher and 2017 fourth-round pick of the Bengals, returns from missing all of 2021 with an Achilles' injury when he got injured in one of his first practices with the Jets.
SEPT. 29 VS. DOLPHINS, 8:15 p.m. at PBS: Miami has a new coach after firing Brian Flores despite an 8-1 finish with a rugged middle-of-the-pack defense. Burrow has come out firing in the first month of the season. He's got a 99.7 September passer rating with 13 touchdowns and five interceptions.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Dolphins wide receivers Tyreek Hill and Jalen Waddle vs. the Bengals deeper, faster secondary. Hill and Waddle have speed to burn, but even before the Bengals drafted three rookie defensive backs with sub 4.4 40s they kept Hill in check in two games last year against the Chiefs. During the season Hill went off for 111 catches for 1,239 yards for basically seven grabs and 73 yards per game. But against the Bengals he had just 118 yards and 13 catches combined.
OCT. 9 AT RAVENS, 8:20 p.m.: Since Burrow hit them for the fourth biggest passing game of all-time with 525 yards back in December to stoke an already boiling rivalry, Baltimore has added a new defensive coordinator, the draft's top safety in Notre Dame's Kyle Hamilton and one of the game's best deep safeties in Marcus Williams.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Ravens rookie center Tyler Linderbaum vs. the Bengals defensive tackles. Linderbaum, a first-round pick, is the highest-rated center to come out in years. At 6-2, 295 pounds, he's an undersized AFC North center but he's a nimble technician. He'll be introduced to the 340-pound D.J. Reader, 345-pound Josh Tupou, 350-pound Tyler Shelvin and 305-pound B.J. Hill, among others.
OCT. 16 AT NEW ORLEANS, 1 p.m.: We know what happened the last time Burrow and Chase played in the Mercedes-Benz Superdome. They smoked Clemson for the national championship to get a ring for LSU. Burrow just misses playing against one of his idols, former Saints quarterback Drew Brees. Instead he finds himself matched up against a fellow No. 1 overall pick in Jameis Winston in a fourth such showdown. Burrow has beaten Jared Goff and Trevor Lawrence and lost to Baker Mayfield.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Chase vs. Saints safety Tyrann Mathieu. Hard to believe that the Honey Badger turns 30 on Friday. There are eight years between him and Chase, but they're both New Orleans natives who became one of the greatest college players ever at LSU.
OCT. 23 VS. ATLANTA, 1 p.m. at PBS: The Falcons had the fewest sacks in the NFL last season with 18 and must contend with Burrow, a.k.a. Mr. October. In just two Octobers he's got 15 touchdown passes on more than eight yards per throw.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Bengals defensive back Tre Flowers and friends vs. Falcons tight end Kyle Pitts. Flowers emerged as a tight end specialist down the stretch last year and then Anarumo emerged from the draft with a trio of versatile defensive backs that were chosen with guys like the freakishly gifted Pitts in mind.
OCT. 31 AT BROWNS, 8:15 p.m.: Even harder to believe, the last time the Bengals were on the Lakefront for a Monday night game, Al Michaels was on ABC calling Ickey Woods "The Ickster," in 1990 during his first game in a year after ACL surgery.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: No matter who the quarterback is, Bengals running back Joe Mixon vs. Browns running back Nick Chubb. Two of the best. Since 2017, Chubb and Mixon are fourth and fifth, respectively, in NFL rushing yards. In this series, when they go off, their team wins. Mixon's 718 yards against the Browns are the most he has against any other team. Chubb's 662 yards against the Bengals are the most he has against any team.
NOV. 13. BYE
NOV. 20 AT STEELERS, 8:20 p.m.: Let's see, the last time the Bengals went to Heinz Field when Big Ben was not with the Steelers, they beat Tommy Maddox on Jon Kitna's 18-yard touchdown pass to tight end Matt Schobel with 13 seconds left.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Bengals new right tackle La'el Collins against Steelers pass rusher T.J. Watt. The Bengals signed Collins for the AFC North. His aggressive, relentless, punishing style is the perfect fit as he duels the league's resident game disruptor.
NOV. 27 AT TITANS, 1 p.m.: The Bengals return to the scene of the grime, where they unleashed their defensive masterpiece in last season's AFC Divisional. Every Cincy school kid knows that the Bengals Kinged the great Derrick Henry on 20 carries for 62 yards and had quarterback Ryan Tannehill talking to himself with three interceptions. Henry is going to be healthier and Tannehill is apparently back. So is every Cincinnati defender that started that 19-16 win.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: After Burrow led them to a win that day despite getting sacked nine times, the Bengals went out and re-made their offensive line in the first week of free agency. Titans tackle Jeffrey Simmons had a hat trick, but the Bengals beefed up on the inside with Super Bowl winners Ted Karras and Alex Cappa.
DEC. 4 VS. CHIEFS, 4:25 p.m. at PBS: Can the Bengals beat Patrick Mahomes three straight? Can the Chiefs slow down Burrow after he hit them for nearly 700 yards over two games in 28 days? Can the Bengals get ahead, after falling behind, 28-14, on Jan. 2, and 21-3 on Jan. 30?
MATCHUP TO WATCH: After watching Chase crush them with a rookie-record 266 yards in the Jan. 2 game, the Chiefs traded up in the first round for Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie.
DEC. 11. VS. BROWNS, 1 p.m. at PBS: New Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson, who figures to be playing by then, returns to the scene of his first NFL start in the second game of the 2017 season. That's when he broke Bengaldom's heart on a third-and-15 scramble for a 49-yard touchdown run with 50 seconds left in the first half of a 13-9 Houston win.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: But this is not that defense. In fact, there's not one starter left from that defense. The multi-talented Watson is facing a much more multi-talented Bengals defense that Anarumo has shaped to defend players like Watson with speedy, athletic guys on the perimeter at all three levels.
DEC. 18 AT BUCCANEERS, 4:25 p.m.: The first and maybe last time Burrow meets Tom Brady. Enough said.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brady matching wits with Logan Wilson, the man Anarumo usually is talking to through the helmet mic. Brady has had his way with the Bengals as he had with most teams while with the Pats, beating them seven out of eight times while throwing 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. But in the one game the Bengals beat him (when they broke his streak of 52 straight games with a TD pass), they got pressure inside and Brady is missing his starting guards from last season. One of them, Cappa, is in the Bengals huddle.
DEC. 24 AT PATRIOTS, 1 p.m.: On the 11th anniversary of the Jerome Simpson touchdown flip, the Bengals try to flip the script in Foxboro as an AFC power.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: A week after he plays Brady, Burrow gets his first taste of Patriots head coach Bill Belichick, knowns for taking away what an offense does best. Think that first Super Bowl win when the Pats cancelled the Rams' "Greatest Show on Turf," by shortening the game on offense and being physical with the Rams receivers. But the Bengals have physical receivers, too. Just ask Jalen Ramsey. Burrow likes a good chess match. Now he goes against a grand master.
JAN. 2. VS. BILLS, 8:30 p.m. at PBS: A year to the day of their thrilling last-play win over the Chiefs at PBS that clinched the AFC North, here comes more AFC royalty with a crazy athletic Pro Bowl quarterback. The Bengals nearly beat Buffalo's Josh Allen in his second season in 2019, but he prevailed late in Orchard Park. He makes his Cincinnati debut in a long awaited duel with Burrow.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Arguably the NFL's two best safety tandems going at it on a field teeming with offense. The Bengals' Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates III try to contain a Bills offense that scored the third most points in the league while the Bills' Jordan Poyer and Micah Hyde lead the Bills' No. 1-rated defense.
But Bell and Bates did in the playoffs what Poyer and Hyde couldn't when they kept Mahomes out of the end zone in the second half of the AFC title game.
JAN. 7/8 VS. RAVENS, TBD at PBS: *For the seventh time in the last 13 years, the Ravens close out a season at PBS and for the ninth time the Bengals end the season against Baltimore.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: The Bengals trio of 1,000-yard receivers against that Ravens' new look secondary. When the Ravens were still fairly heathy in the Oct. 24 game last year in Baltimore, Burrow still threw for 416 yards.