NOV. 20 AT STEELERS, 8:20 pm: Let’s see, the last time the Bengals went to Heinz Field when the Big Ben wasn’t 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 TJ 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 pm: 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 on the great Derrick Henry for 20 carries for 62 yards and had quarterback Ryan Tannehill talk to himself for 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 while 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 inside with Super Bowl winners Ted Karras and Alex Cappa.
DEC. 4 VS. CHIEFS, 4:25 pm at PBS: Can the Bengals beat Patrick Mahomes three straight? Can the Chiefs slow down Burrow after he hits them for about 700 yards in two games in 28 days? Can the Bengals get ahead, 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. Game 2: The Chiefs traded up in the first round for Washington cornerback Trent McDuffie.
DEC. 11. VS. BROWNS, 1 pm 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 a third-and-15 scramble on Bengaldom’s heart 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 a starter left from that defense. The multi-talented Watson is facing 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 pm: The first and maybe last time Burrow meets Tom Brady. Enough said.
MATCHUP TO WATCH: Brady matching wits with Logan Wilson, the man Anarumo is usually talking to through the helmet mic. Brady has had his way with the Bengals as he has the most teams while with the Pats, beating him seven times out of eight while throwing 17 touchdowns and just three interceptions. But in one game the Bengals beat him (when they broke his streak of 52 straight games with a TD pass), they got the pressure inside and Brady is missing from his starting guards last season. One of them, Cappa, is in the Bengals huddle.