The Seahawks are ready to get back to playing in front of the home crowd.
That was the sentiment echoed by players and coaches this week, and with two road games and a bye week, it just seems like it’s been a long time since the home crowd has been cheering the team on.
“Our place rocks,” said coach Pete Carroll at his Friday press conference. “This is a very special place to play, and we know it, and we want to rouse ‘em up.”
The Seahawks face Cincinnati this week, and though it may be difficult to believe, the Bengals are now a much better team than in previous years with Carson Palmer, Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco no longer on the roster.
The Bengals are 4-2, with their two losses coming at home against the 49ers and on the road in Denver. Cincinnati won its first game on the road in Cleveland and have won three in a row against Buffalo, Jacksonville and Indianapolis.
With Marcus Trufant and Walter Thurmond out with season-ending injuries, rookie Richard Sherman is planning to start at cornerback this weekend. With so many injuries, we can expect to see rookie quarterback Andy Dalton testing what would appear to be the most vulnerable part of the Seahawks’ defense.
Fortunately for Seattle, Zach Miller, Max Unger and Marshawn Lynch are all expected to return to play this week. During his Friday press conference, Carroll said the decision on whether to start Charlie Whitehurst or Tarvaris Jackson won’t be made until game time.
“Charlie had all the lead work and he’s ready to start the game,” said Carroll.
Jackson remains questionable, but if he is good enough to go on Sunday, Carroll sounded as though Tarvaris would take back the starting spot. No matter who starts, Whitehurst expects the offense will have a challenge going up against one of the league’s top defenses.
“They’re tough. They’re good at just about every position,” said Whitehurst during a press conference on Thursday. “They’re good up front. They got guys who can cover, for sure. So our work is going to be cut out for us.”
Although the Bengals offense doesn’t stand out in any of the top categories on offense (pass/rush/total yards/points), their defense is ranked in the top five in each. Offensively and defensively, they rank higher than Seattle, which makes it even more important that the Seahawks are playing in front of the home crowd for the first time since Oct. 2.
Even with the home crowd behind them, the Seahawks’ offense needs to get out to a much quicker start than they have historically—no matter who starts at quarterback. Start slow and the chants to put Josh Portis behind center probably aren’t too far off.
Good news this week, at least partially, American Forces Network is scheduled to carry the second half of the Seahawks-Bengals matchup after NASCAR on AFN Xtra. This is the first week this year, right? I can hardly remember since it’s been so long. The game starts at 2000 GMT, and AFN is scheduled pick it up in progress at 2130. Direct-to-Sailor will also carry the game after the race and will air it on DTS Atlantic at the same time.
For those in Afghanistan, I’m not sure what to tell you. At least you won’t feel pressure to stay up all night since the game starts there at 0200. Get a little sleep before the game, watch the second half, and get a little sleep after. Actually, that could work out well for you. It’s certainly better than the alternative of trying to get a quick nap in before a midnight game.