Winning on the road in the NFL is a tough thing to do and winning on the road when you have to travel all the way across the country is even tougher. In general, teams from the East Coast don't do too well when they have to travel west and teams from the West Coast don't do too well when they have to travel east. I guess the teams in the middle are the lucky ones.
This weekend, the Bengals will be traveling the 2,351 miles from Cincinnati to Seattle (according to MapQuest) in order to play the Seahawks on their home turf. We've told you how the Bengals have been coming off a bye week in the Marvin Lewis era (2-5-1 since 2003) which is cause for concern, but we haven't talked about the Bengals record on the West Coast in the Marvin Lewis era.
This depends on what you want to consider the West Coast when it comes to NFL teams. The six western-most teams are the Seattle Seahawks, the San Francisco 49ers, the Oakland Raiders, the San Diego Chargers, the Arizona Cardinals and the Denver Broncos. However, I left the Broncos out because they're closer to the middle of the country than they are to the Pacific Ocean.
So, if we say that the West-Coast teams are the Chargers, 49ers, Raiders, Seahawks and Cardinals, the Bengals have a 1-5 record on the West Coast under Marvin Lewis. The only win came in Lewis' first year as the Bengals head coach -- in Week 12 of the 2003 season, the Bengals beat the Chargers in San Diego by a score of 34-27. They haven't won on the West Coast since.
That year they lost to the Raiders and the Cardinals on the road. They lost in Seattle in 2007. And they lost in Oakland and in San Diego in 2009. If we count Denver as a West-Coast team, their record in the Lewis era would be 1-7 instead of 1-5, having lost to the Broncos on the road in Week 16 of the 2006 season and earlier this season.
So, there are quite a few streaks that will be broken if the Bengals take care of business on Sunday. They'll improve their record on games coming out of the bye week, they'll beat the Seahawks in Seattle for the first time since the mid '90s and they'll win their first game on the West Coast since Marvin Lewis' first year as head coach.
This Bengals team seems to be different than the ones who played down to their competition and dropped winnable games. I'm excited to watch the Bengals on Sunday because I have more faith in the 2011 Bengals than I did in most other Bengals teams. Hopefully trends of the last eight Bengals teams under Marvin Lewis don't extend into this one. With a win, Lewis could shed a few monkeys off his back and become the winningest coach in Bengals history all at the same time. Here's to hoping he pulls it off.