For openers, home sweet home on Bengals 2017 schedule

Bengals executive vice president Katie Blackburn asked and in turn she received the club’s first Paul Brown Stadium opener in the seven seasons of the A.J. GreenAndy Dalton Era.

The Bengals kick off their 50th anniversary season with not one but back-to-back home games to start the year for the first time since 1983 when the NFL released a schedule Thursday that features AFC North rival Baltimore at PBS on Sept. 10 to be followed quickly by the Texans in town on Sept. 14 for a Thursday night 8:25 NFL Network game.

For the first time ever, the Bengals are launching single-game ticket sales for the opener simultaneously with the schedule release and are available now at

  For the seventh time in eight years they close the season with the Ravens on the last day of the year, but it’s the first time the season finale is in Baltimore since 2010.

In between the Bengals have an Oct. 15 bye, play three straight on the road from Oct. 22-Nov. 5, three straight at home from Nov. 26-Dec. 10, and play four of their last six games at home.

ESPN’s Monday night game against the Steelers at PBS on Dec. 4 is one of two prime-time slots, their fewest since they had none in 2011, the rookie years of the unproven Green and Dalton.

But even though they have since led the Bengals to their most successful stretch in history with 58 wins in the past six years, they couldn’t get a home opener until now. The last one came on Sept. 13, 2009 in that improbable last-second loss to Denver.

 “We are excited to kick-off our 50th season at home, and to accommodate fans, we are making single-game tickets to the home opener versus the Baltimore Ravens available now,” Blackburn said in a news release. “This will be a special year commemorating our 50th season, and having two nationally televised prime-time games at Paul Brown Stadium adds to the enthusiasm.”

The Green-Dalton Bengals have actually done well in road openers with a 4-2 record and three straight, two of them won in the fourth quarter. But this gives everyone a lift.

“Finally,” Dalton said. “It’s going to be great to have that crowd with us. The opener is always loud, it’s a new year and people are pumped. Now they’re on our side.”

Clint Boling, Dalton’s left guard, is also experiencing his first home opener.

“I think it’s exciting not only for us, but for the city,” Boling said. “Not many of us have been able to open the season at home, so that will be a little extra. Opening on the road, that’s definitely a tough environment.”

Two stretches caught Dalton’s eye, the three straight games in Jacksonville, Tennessee, and Denver, as well as three of the season’s final four games coming against the NFC North.

“We’re going to have to be ready for that stretch in November but it’s good it’s followed up with three straight at home,’ said Dalton of a PBS run of Cleveland, Pittsburgh, and Chicago.  “I’m surprised to see us finish with the…

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