This season, the NFL started rotating teams through bye weeks in Week 5. Since then, 18 teams have had a week off, including the Cincinnati Bengals, who had last weekend off (Week 7). The bye week gives a team a chance to get healthy and to rest their players for a week. While I'm sure that the bye helps teams when it comes to injuries, it doesn't help them win games.
So far this season, teams coming out of their bye weeks have won only three games and lost nine. The Bengals are coming out of their Week 7 bye and have to travel all the way across the country to Seattle to play a Seahawks team with a good defense that is very tough to beat at home.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis hasn't been too terribly good coming off a bye week in his career in Cincinnati, with a 2-5-1 record dating back to 2003. However, since this team is different than the others he's coached in Cincinnati, maybe the result will be different. Either way, Lewis doesn't want to be a stat like the other teams that lost coming out of their bye weeks.
"I don’t know. Knock on wood, we’re trying not to be one. You’ve got to focus, you’ve got to get the continuity back. You’ve just got to go play, that’s what it’s about. It’s about going out there, getting going and making plays. You set up your plans as play callers and everything, but it all comes down going and executing and getting after it. I’m going to get after it today, just like I did on Monday."
This team, maybe because of youth or maybe because they shed some players that could have been bad for the locker room, seems to have bought into Lewis' style of coaching. The leadership is there from veterans and rookies alike and there doesn't seem to be any locker room disturbances at all. If there's a Bengals team that I expect to win coming out of a bye week, it's this one.
Even though the Bengals are going out to the West Coast, this is a game the Bengals should win, especially the way their defense is playing right now. Hopefully they do what they need to do and what they have been doing. As far as losing the first game after a bye week, Lewis says he doesn't "want to be that stat (of teams struggling coming off a bye week). I want to be on the other side of that stat."
If the Bengals can do what they need to do and what they're capable of doing this week and next week, they can head into their four-game AFC North stretch in great position in both the AFC and their division.