The Cincinnati Bengals announced their preseason schedule Thursday, and it includes an unusual opening and familiar ending, along with a nationally televised game for the second year in a row.
The Bengals will open the preseason at home for just the second time in the last nine years with a game against the New York Giants the weekend of Aug. 13-17.
Exact dates and times for three of the four preseason games will be announced later.
The one exception is the second game, which will have the Bengals traveling to Tampa Bay on Aug. 24 for a Monday Night Football game that will have a couple of interesting storylines. The first will be Cincinnati defensive end Michael Johnson’s return to face the team he spent the 2014 season with, and the second will be the national television debut of whomever the Buccaneers select with the No. 1 overall pick in the draft.
The Bengals will return home to face the Chicago Bears the weekend of Aug. 27-31, before heading to Indianapolis for the finale on Sept. 3 or 4.
Cincinnati has played the Colts in the preseason 23 times in the last 24 years, and the two teams faced off three times in 2014 – in the preseason, regular season and postseason.
The regular season schedule is expected to be announced later this month, although the Bengals already know who their opponents will be.
Cincinnati will play home games against Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Kansas City, San Diego, St. Louis, Seattle and Houston.
The road games will be at Baltimore, Cleveland, Pittsburgh, Denver, Oakland, Arizona, San Francisco and Buffalo.
The NFL is expected to finalize the regular-season schedule with dates and times by at least April 24, which is a week before the NFL Draft begins April 30.