Matchup problem: Leon Washington. In a game that figures to be somewhat of a defensive struggle, Washington could make some big plays for Seattle in the kicking game. He has seven career kick returns for touchdowns, which is good enough for second in NFL history behind Josh Cribbs. Cincinnati’s special teams have been solid so far this season, taking care of Cribbs in Cleveland and everyone else on their schedule. Let’s hope the streak continues. If Cincinnati is to escape Seattle with a win, they’ll have to neutralize Washington in the process.
Player to Watch: Bernard Scott. Scott, the backup running back who fans believe has long deserved more playing time, will start for the Bengals because of Cedric Benson’s suspension. Scott brings a different element to the Bengals offense, with more speed on the edge and more explosiveness in general. But he typically doesn’t run as well between the tackles, so Cincinnati may look to Cedric Peerman or Brian Leonard for significant carries as well. Even though Seattle’s run defense is rather solid, I’m expecting a good game from Scott. I think Jay Gruden, unlike his predecessor Bob Bratkowski, will find some creative ways to use his talents.
How the Bengals can win: By scoring 24 points. Even without Rey Maualuga at middle linebacker, I don’t see Seattle scoring more than 24 points after putting up only three at Cleveland last week. Cincinnati also might want to throw the ball a little more than usual this week because Seattle’s biggest weakness is in the secondary, where they have already lost two starters to injuries. If the Bengals can string together some explosive plays and continue their tradition of solid defense and special teams, the team could get their first West Coast win this season. I’m also interested to see how Marvin Lewis does coming off the bye week. Traditionally, his teams have struggled after the extra week of preparation.
Let’s hope things are different this time.