Updated: 3:55 p.m.
In what looks to be a harbinger of national television exposure for their defending AFC North champions during the regular season, the Bengals drew prime-time assignments on the NFL's preseason schedule released Wednesday.
FOX comes to Paul Brown Stadium for an 8 p.m. game Friday, Aug. 20, against the Eagles. That comes 12 days after the Bengals open the league's schedule in the Hall of Fame Game in Canton, Ohio against the Cowboys in NBC's 8 p.m. game.
In between those two games the Broncos come to PBS the weekend of Aug. 12-16 for a date that has yet to be announced. The Bengals close their first five-game preseason in 22 years with two road games, in Buffalo Aug. 26-30 and Indianapolis Sept. 2 or 3.
It marks the first time since 2006 the Bengals have been nationally televised twice in the preseason, when they ended up on national TV twice during the regular season.
"We welcome the opportunity to compete in these high-profile games," said Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis in a news release. "It adds an extra element of intensity to our preseason work and is exciting for our fans."
The Bengals haven't been on regular-season prime time since a Nov. 20, 2008 NFL Network game in Pittsburgh and haven't been on outside the Network since an Oct. 1, 2007 Monday night game at PBS against the Patriots.
The Bengals can only hope that a home opener against Denver means another division title. Last year the Broncos opened the regular season with one of the wildest wins in recent memory on quarterback Kyle Orton's "Spike Strike." His 87-yard touchdown pass that was deflected by cornerback Leon Hall into the arms of wide receiver Brandon Stokley with 11 seconds left transformed a 7-6 win into a 12-7 nightmare on the longest winning touchdown play from scrimmage in the final minute of the fourth quarter in NFL history.
But the Bengals set the tone for their resourceful 10-6 season when they rebounded to win four straight.
The last time the Bengals went national in the preseason served as one of the more memorable moments in team history. Aug. 28, 2006 at PBS marked quarterback Carson Palmer's first action since he tore his ACL on the same field seven and a half months earlier in the playoffs. The ESPN cameras saw Palmer light up the first half on 9-of-14 passing for three touchdowns and a 136.9 passer rating that staked the Bengals to a 34-7 halftime lead in a 48-17 victory over Green Bay.
The 2010 preseason finale at defending AFC champ Indianapolis is the 18th time in 19 years that Cincinnati has played the Colts in preseason and is the eighth straight year they have closed the preseason. Cincinnati and Indianapolis are the two closest cities in the AFC by driving distance.
--Hall of Fame game, vs. Dallas at Canton, Ohio, 8 p.m., Sun., Aug. 8.
--Week 1, DENVER at Paul Brown Stadium, weekend of Aug. 12-16
--Week 2, PHILADELPHIA at Paul Brown Stadium, 8 p.m., Fri., Aug. 20
--Week 3, at Buffalo, weekend of Aug. 26-30
--Week 4, at Indianapolis, weekend of Sept. 2-3
In the last few years the regular-season schedule has usually been released in mid April. Last year it was April 14.