2 ‘Battle of Ohio’ matchups against Cleveland bookend Bengals’ 2023 schedule

CINCINNATI/BEREA — Two “Battle of Ohio” matchups against the Cleveland Browns will bookend the Bengals’ schedule, beginning with the regular season opener at Cleveland on Sept. 10, Cincinnati Bengals Communications announced Thursday night.

It will be the first time since 2019 the Bengals open the season on the road, and the ninth time in team history they face their in-state divisional rival in their season opener. Cincinnati then will meet the Browns in the regular-season finale at Paycor Stadium.

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The NFL officially announced the 2023 NFL regular season schedules for all teams Thursday night.

The Bengals’ 2023 schedule includes preseason opponents and the full 17-game regular-season slate. Cincinnati, seeking its third consecutive postseason berth, will appear in several high-profile matchups in nationally televised windows.

The Bengals will host two primetime games at Paycor, beginning with a rematch of Super Bowl LVI against the Los Angeles Rams on Sept. 25 on Monday Night Football. Cincinnati then will welcome the Buffalo Bills for a Nov. 5 Sunday Night Football contest.

The Bengals also will play two primetime games on the road — Thursday Night Football on Nov. 16 at Baltimore (8:15 p.m. on Prime Video) and Monday Night Football on Dec. 4 at Jacksonville.

It will mark the ninth time in team history the Bengals are featured on Monday Night Football multiple times in a single season.

Additionally, Cincinnati will play two games in the 4:25 p.m. time slot on CBS — Oct. 29 at San Francisco and Dec. 31 at Kansas City. The Week 17 contest against the Chiefs will mark the fourth time in team history the Bengals play on New Year’s Eve. The Bengals also will travel to Pittsburgh to take on the Steelers on Dec. 23 in a standalone national window.

The Browns are set to face three divisional opponents in their first four games, host one big late-season primetime matchup and play three road games out west among the 17 games on their 2023 regular season schedule.

“Everybody loves schedule release day,” head coach Kevin Stefanski said. “It’s fun to finally see when all the games are happening, and to open it up with the division champs in the Battle of Ohio in front of our fans is outstanding. I know our players, coaches and staff are excited to get going at home right away in the AFC North.”

The divisional matchups will keep coming for the Browns early in the season, which will continue with a huge Monday Night Football battle for Week 2 in Pittsburgh on Sept. 18. The game will air on ABC with an 8:15 p.m. kickoff and give the Browns another chance to build a fast start in their divisional record, and it will be just the third time in franchise history they’ve opened the season against consecutive AFC North opponents (2020 and 2017).

The Browns will return home for Week 3 against the Titans on Sept. 24 before taking on yet another divisional matchup in Week 4 against the Ravens at home.

With three divisional matchups in the first four games, the Browns will have a big opportunity to establish an early lead in the AFC North.

“It’s certainly a unique way to start the season, but I think it’s really cool,” Stefanski said. “I think we have the best division in football — a bunch of great players and great coaches. We know each other so well and we’ve played each other so many times. It lends itself to a great rivalry, so to see the Bengals in Week 1, Steelers in Week 2 and Ravens in Week 4 means there’s no easing into this one.”

With a Week 5 bye, the Browns will be one of the first teams in the league to hit their mid-season break and will have an early opportunity to recharge as the calendar flips to October.

The Browns will return from the bye to play their first of three games against NFC West opponents this season and welcome the 49ers to Cleveland on Oct. 15. They will then travel for back-to-back weeks for the first time of the season against the Colts (Oct. 22) and Seahawks (Oct. 29), with the latter matchup set to air at 4:05 p.m. on FOX.

The Browns will knock out the second of their two divisional games against the Ravens and Steelers in back-to-back weeks in Weeks 10-11. They’ll head to Baltimore on Nov. 12 and then host the Steelers on Nov. 19.

Then, they’ll head west for two road games to play the Broncos on Nov. 26 and the Rams on Dec. 3 before anchoring at home for the next two weeks when they’ll host the Jaguars and Bears. The date and time for the Week 15 matchup against Chicago has yet to be determined.

A primetime atmosphere will finally return to Cleveland in Week 17, and it’ll be against a crucial AFC opponent. The Browns will host QB Aaron Rodgers and the Jets on Dec. 28 on Thursday Night Football, which will mark their final home game of the season and could be a game with heavy playoff implications in the AFC.

The Browns’ final game could hold massive playoff implications, too, in a road matchup against the Bengals in Week 18. The Browns will open and close their season against the Bengals, which is the fifth time in team history they’ve opened and closed a season against the same opponent (2017, 1963, 1957, 1956). The game date and time is also still to be determined, which the NFL temporarily sets for all Week 18 games. Kickoff times will be decided after Week 17.

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