Instant Reaction: Quick Thoughts on Cincinnati Bengals' 2024 Schedule

The schedule was released on Wednesday night.
Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1)
Dec 24, 2022; Foxborough, Massachusetts, USA; Cincinnati Bengals wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase (1) / Eric Canha-USA TODAY Sports
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CINCINNATI — The Bengals' 2024 regular season schedule was released on Wednesday night. Check out the entire schedule here.

Joe Burrow, Ja'Marr Chase and company are hoping to return to the playoffs after finishing 9-8 last season and not making it for the first time as a duo. They're hoping to bounce back in a big way this year.

Here are my first impressions of this year's schedule:

Fast Start?

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) scrambles out of the pocket in the fourth quarter of
Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) scrambles out of the pocket in the fourth quarter of / Sam Greene/The Enquirer / USA TODAY

The Bengals have started 0-2 in each of the past two seasons. That has a lot to do with Burrow's health, but getting off to a fast start will be a storyline for the remainder of the offseason and training camp.

The good news is the Bengals are in a position to get off to a fast start. Sure, they play the Chiefs on the road in Week 2, but they also play the Patriots (Week 1) and Commanders (Week 3) at home, before wrapping up the month of September on the road against the Panthers (Week 4).

Anything less than a 3-1 start going into their Week 5 matchup with Baltimore would be disappointing. Of course, health is unpredictable, but the Bengals should get off to a fast start if they're relatively healthy during the first month of the season. They haven't started 3-1 since the 2021 campaign, which ended with a run to Super Bowl LVI.

Primetime

The Bengals might've missed the playoffs in 2023, but that didn't scare the NFL away from giving them five primetime games this season. They play three NFC East teams in primetime (Commanders, Giants and Cowboys). They also play the Ravens (Week 10) and Browns (Week 16) on Thursday Night Football.

The Nov. 7 game in Baltimore will be filled with the Burrow injury storyline. He suffered his season-ending wrist injury against the Ravens on Nov. 16 on Thursday Night Football. He'll return to the same stadium 356 days after suffering the injury.

Two Thursday night games is a surprise. Having to play two tough AFC North opponents on a short week is always tough. The matchup against the Browns is at home, which is better than the alternative, but both games will be a challenge.

Late Season AFC North Slate

The Bengals only play one division game in the first six weeks of the season. Three of their AFC North games are in December or January. They don't play the Steelers until Dec. 1 (Week 13).

Pushing four of their six division games into the back half of the schedule means their fate in the AFC North (for better or worse) probably won't be decided until late December. Even if they get off to a fast start, they'll need to be consistent and handle business in the division if they're going to win their third AFC North crown in four seasons.

Plenty of Rest in November

The Bengals have two games from Nov. 7-30. They play the Ravens on Thursday Night Football on Nov. 7, then they play the Chargers in Los Angeles on Nov. 17. They have a bye the following week, before hosting the Steelers on Dec. 1.

Busy December

The Bengals are going to need to rest up in November (two games in 23 days) because they play early and often in December.

The Bengals have four games in an 18-day span. They play the Steelers on Dec. 1, followed by the Cowboys in Dallas on Dec. 9. Then they head to Nashville on a short week to play the Titans on Dec. 15 and finish up with the Browns four days later at home on Dec. 19. That means they'll play three games in 11 days (Dec. 9-19).

They'll need all the rest they'll get in November to prepare for a tough stretch of games, which include two key AFC North matchups and a primetime showdown in Dallas.

Final Thoughts

The Bengals never have more than two-straight games at home or on the road. The schedule gives them a realistic chance to start strong, but there isn't a matchup on the docket that they can't win.

The 2024 Bengals should be one of the best teams in the NFL and the schedule helps establish that sentiment. They don't have many long road trips and appear to be in position to make a playoff run after missing the cut last season.

It's hard to envision a more favorable schedule for this team. They're in a good spot, they don't have a lot of travel, they play some young quarterbacks early and should be in position to make a playoff (or more) in December.

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Published
James Rapien

JAMES RAPIEN

James Rapien covers the Bengals for Sports Illustrated's AllBengals.com and is one-half of the Locked on Bengals Podcast. He's also the co-owner/creator of Cincinnati Bengals Talk on YouTube. He earned a journalism degree from the University of Cincinnati and has spent the majority of his professional career in the Queen City. Rapien previously covered the Cavaliers and Indians in Cleveland. He has a background in radio, which includes stops at 700 WLW, ESPN 1530 and 92.3 The Fan. He loves a good trade rumor and uses copious amounts of hot sauce on his food. Cincinnati chili is his go-to meal, followed by gallons of mint chocolate chip ice cream for dessert. When he isn't working or eating, he's probably walking his dog Finley or spending time with family.