Ladies and gentlemen, the 2021 NFL schedule is officially here. With the draft in the books and most rosters all but locked and loaded for the fall, we can finally turn our eyes toward the season. The AFC North, in particular, promises plenty of intrigue this year, with three teams coming off of playoff seasons. And while they finished last in the division last year, the Bengals have hope in the form of Joe Burrow, who played extremely well before an injury prematurely ended his rookie campaign. Here's a full rundown of their 17-game schedule, including key matchups and a season prediction:
2021 Bengals schedule
|Week 1||Sep. 12||Minnesota Vikings||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Week 2||Sep. 19||at Chicago Bears||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Week 3||Sep. 26||at Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 4||Sep. 30||Jacksonville Jaguars (Thu)||8:20 PM||NFLN|
|Week 5||Oct. 10||Green Bay Packers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Week 6||Oct. 17||at Detroit Lions||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Week 7||Oct. 24||at Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 8||Oct. 31||at New York Jets||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 9||Nov. 7||Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 11||Nov. 21||at Las Vegas Raiders||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Week 12||Nov. 28||Pittsburgh Steelers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 13||Dec. 5||Los Angeles Chargers||1:00 PM||FOX|
|Week 14||Dec. 12||San Francisco 49ers||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 15||Dec. 19||at Denver Broncos||4:05 PM||CBS|
|Week 16||Dec. 26||Baltimore Ravens||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 17||Jan. 2||Kansas City Chiefs||1:00 PM||CBS|
|Week 18||Jan. 9||at Cleveland Browns||1:00 PM||CBS|
Bengals key games
- Week 9 vs. Browns: The Bengals fought gamely in both matchups with the Browns in 2020, but they fell short in both games, a narrative the Bengals will try to reverse this season.
- Week 3 at Steelers: Cincinnati ended its 10-game losing streak against the Steelers the last time these two teams met. But Cincinnati still hasn't won in Pittsburgh since 2015 and have just two wins in the Steel City since 2010.
- Week 13 vs. Chargers: Joe Burrow gets his first matchup against Justin Herbert, who cruised to Offensive Rookie of the Year after Burrow went down with an injury last season.
Bengals toughest matchup
Week: 16 | Date: Jan. 9 | Time: 1 p.m.
Opponent: vs. Kansas City Chiefs
Kansas City is the ultimate measuring-stick game. It's also a chance for Burrow to go head to head with Patrick Mahomes, the only player in league history to win league and Super Bowl MVPs before his 25th birthday.
Bengals projected win total
2021 record prediction: 6-10-1
The Bengals' measure for this success this season is not as much about wins and losses. They need to keep Burrow upright for an entire season. If they do that, Cincinnati may very well win more games than most of the prognosticators expect.