The Bengals will begin the 2014 season in Baltimore, play three times on national television and face rival Pittsburgh twice in the final four games.
The NFL announced the entire league schedule Wednesday night.
Cincinnati went 11-5 last season en route to its first AFC North division title since 2009 but lost to San Diego in the first round of the playoffs, its third straight opening playoff game defeat. The Bengals will be trying to reach the postseason for a franchise-record fourth consecutive season and get a first playoff win since the 1990 season.
They open at Baltimore on Sept. 7 and then face Atlanta and Tennessee at home the following two weeks before getting an early season bye in Week Four. A road trip to Foxborough to play Tom Brady and the New England Patriots in a Sunday night nationally televised game on Oct. 5 awaits the Bengals when they come back from the bye.
The Bengals will have two home games on national TV; a Thursday night game against Cleveland on Nov. 6 and a Monday night game against Peyton Manning and the Denver Broncos on Dec. 22.
The schedule has some intriguing stretches interspersed throughout the 16 games. The game against New England is the first of three straight against 2013 division winners. Carolina (NFC South) comes to Paul Brown Stadium on Oct. 12 and the Bengals travel to Indianapolis to play the Colts (AFC South) on Oct. 19.
There are three straight road games in November (at New Orleans, at Houston, at Tampa Bay) and the month of December features both games against the Steelers. Pittsburgh comes to Cincinnati on Dec. 7 and the teams close out the regular season at Heinz Field on Dec. 28. This will be the fourth straight season the Bengals and Steelers have played a December game in Pittsburgh.
"It’s a challenging start for us, opening at Baltimore," said head coach Marvin Lewis in a statement released by the team, "and on the back end we’ve got Pittsburgh twice in the last four games. That’s unusual and could lend a lot of excitement. And of course we’re excited to get two prime-time games in Paul Brown Stadium. Our fans deserve that, and our team can feed off that enthusiasm."