The first of those five straight wins for the Bengals was the highest-scoring in the series, a 58-48 barnburner in 2004 which spoke to the good and bad of this team just as 2007's loss did - this is a squad with one of the most explosive offenses in the NFL, and a defense that has had trouble holding its own for a long time. And as much as the offense excites fans and leaves pundits wondering if (insert year here) will be the magic season, it's the defense that always crashes everything back down to reality.
former Baltimore Ravens defensive coordinator Marvin Lewis was named the team's
head coach before the 2003 season, the
it all goes as Palmer's crew goes, and outscoring equals winning. As he prepares
his team for its first visit to
"Today and most of yesterday, we just focused on
Lewis detailed one defensive addition - the Bengals signed former Giants and Eagles linebacker Dhani Jones on Tuesday. Known as much for his unique (unless you're a fan of Percy Dovetonsils) wardrobe and occasionally grandiloquent NFL Network appearances, Jones is joining a team already stocked with few wallflowers (see: "Cinco, Ocho"). How will Jones fit in, and what will his role be?
a guy who has played winning football in the NFL," Lewis said. "He
has played at linebacker and started a lot of games. We had the opportunity
to watch him here on our practice fields (during joint practices in August
"He'll understand some things, yeah. He'll be able to do it and he'll contribute on special teams. It was a two-fold thing. An opportunity, again, a guy that's had some experience to come in and help quickly as opposed to trying to teach a younger guy."
help of any kind on that defense will be seen as a blessing. Second-year linebacker
Ahmad Brooks suffered a groin strain in the Browns game and didn't practice
on Wednesday. After Odell Thurman's reinstatement plea was denied by the league,
Hall and fellow cornerback Jonathan Joseph were toasted by fourth-time NFL
starter Derek Anderson, and veteran tailback Jamal Lewis traipsed through
that defense for 216 yards on 27 carries.
"Our pace on offense is not a problem," Lewis said, when asked if having his offense play "keep-away" from opposing offenses might be his best defensive strategy. "Although we sometimes don't huddle up, it's not as though the ball is being snapped early. It's still being snapped inside 10 seconds on the play clock. So it doesn't take away from things that way. We're not in a hurry-up mode; we're just in not-huddling mode. So that's not an issue. We want to score touchdowns every chance we get. In fact, the biggest point for our offense is to make sure every series ends with a (place) kick. If you have every series end with a kick, you're probably going to be successful in the game - which is a huge part of why we didn't win last week."
up with the thought of Jamal Lewis as he must be,
Lewis is thinking about what
the corners can play. One safety we have a ton of respect for, who used to
Another concern for Palmer is Qwest Field, the nest of false starts which has become infamous for rattling
"You can't worry about it," Palmer said of the environment. "You can't think about it. You have to be loud with your protection adjustments. You have to be loud and have 100% in the communication area. It's just something you have to deal with. You deal with it (road games) eight times per year. We play in some pretty difficult places. From what we've heard, it's even louder than some of the places we've been, but you can't let it rattle you or affect the way you play. You still have to go out there and do what you have to do. Just make sure you're good in the communication area and that everyone is on the same page. The next step is to make big plays and quiet them down.
"We have to prepare like we do every week. We have to practice extremely hard. We have to understand the schemes in the game plan and understand the schemes we'll be seeing defensively. It's a regular work week. You have to get here early and show up, and have nothing on your mind other than football. Avoid all of the distractions outside of the facility and prepare as intensely as you can. That's what we have to do."
If he can make those adjustments, the Seahawks could be in a great deal of trouble - Palmer is in a major zone, and Chad Johnson, his primary receiver, is on pace for some crazy numbers. The Seahawks' smaller young cornerbacks are in for a fight. Houshmandzadeh, a second receiver to Johnson in name only, is currently tied for the NFL lead in receptions with 17 - one more than his more famous counterpart.
And if the Seahawks vacate the middle in deference to the pass, running back Rudi Johnson, who has carried the ball more often than any other NFL back over the last three seasons, could gash Seattle's depleted interior line for huge gains - not to mention the time of possession so desperately needed by their opponents' own defense.
With this offense, it's pretty simple - you have to pick your poison and hope the other one doesn't kill you.
first meeting between these two teams since 2003 (a 27-24 Bengals win) should
be very interesting,
Doug Farrar is the Editor-in-Chief of Seahawks.NET, a staff writer for Football Outsiders, and a contributing author to Pro Football Prospectus 2007. Feel free to e-mail him here.