The Cincinnati Bengals face an uphill battle today in Seattle if they are going to move their record to 5-2. While the Bengals hold a decided statistical edge on paper against the Seahawks, several intangibles will test the youthful Bengals.
Historically, the Bengals have performed poorly coming off bye weeks. They are 5-16-1 since bye weeks were introduced into the schedule and only 2-5-1 under Marvin Lewis. They've never won on the West Coast coming off a bye week. That could be due to the jet lag effects. Though the Bengals traveled to Seattle on Friday, it's still not enough time to adjust their body clocks. Perhaps no athletes are more routine oriented than football players. The Bengals are 4-1 playing at one o'clock Eastern this season. Perhaps their worst appearance of the season was in Denver when it appeared the team took a half of football to arrive at the stadium. The Bengals are 1-7 overall in West Coast games under Lewis and haven't won a game in that time zone since Lewis's first year when they won in San Diego.
The young Bengals, led by rookie quarterback Andy Dalton, also step into one of the noisiest atmosphere's in the NFL. Whether or not the Seahawks are doing well, the fans at CenturyLink Field can be counted on to fulfill their duties as "12th man." Seattle is the only stadium I'm aware of in the NFL that keeps a running total of the opposition's false start penalties on the score board. Making it worse is the stadium design. The seating is probably the most vertical in the league, meaning the fans on the lower levels are in closer proximity to the players and the fans are covered by aluminum awnings that jut out. This not only helps cover them from the rain, but it also amplifies the crowd noise. Dalton and the Bengals will need to do well early to try and neutralize the crowd.
Speaking of rain, the forecast calls for rain the entire day tomorrow in Seattle. Ball security will be a premium for a Cincinnati team that has thrived on not putting its defense in bad situations. Dalton's lone rain experience came in the preseason in New York and he had some difficulties handling the ball.
Besides all these issues, the Bengals are also facing another football team, the Seattle Seahawks. It's this factor that will allow the Bengals to emerge victorious. Seattle's defense has performed well enough, but the Seahawk offense, in a word, stinks. If Tavaris Jackson is healthy, he gives the Seahawks their best chance to win by extending plays with his legs. He's questionable. Unless the Bengals simply implode due to the above conditions and give the Seahawks scoring opportunities, Cincinnati will have enough to escape Seattle with their fifth win.
This Bengals team has been breaking tendencies all season. Today they get their first West Coast win in eight years under Marvin Lewis. Bengals 16, Seahawks 10.
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