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Matchup: Bengals 'Hawk questions






SEPTEMBER 23, 2007

The roundtable, just as stunned as everyone else by what transpired in Cleveland, gives the edge to Seattle going off state of mind and State of Washington.

"It's a hard place to play. A long trip and a good crowd right on top of you," says The Guru, a former top team football exec in the NFL. "With Cincinnati's offense, they'll be in every game. I think last week was an aberration on defense but they will have a lot of things to defend."

The Chief, a team personnel director not in the Bengals division, whistled at the matchup.

"You'd have to say Seattle has a lot better offense than Cleveland," he says. "No question they're one of the NFC's best teams."

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The Hawks have the NFL's second-best home record over the 34 games since the next-to-last week of the 2002 season at 28-6. In head coach Marvin Lewis' 33 road games, the Bengals are 16-17.

"Honestly I don't think there is a harder challenge than playing at Indianapolis against Dwight Freeney," Whitworth says. "Two things (Freeney) has on you is it's loud and his specialty is speed. So once he gets that extra step, he's more effective. For me going through that already and realizing it's as bad as it gets, this is just going out there and doing what I can do and try to play well."

"There's nobody up front there that scares you," The Chief says.

Rudi Johnson will also have to be aware of Tatupu and outside linebacker Leroy Hill (if he's healthy) because the Seahawks like to blitz, although Hill's sack total dipped from his rookie year in '05 of 7.5 to two last season.

"(Houshmandzadeh) is one of the bigger guys and Jennings is a guy they may want to exploit," The Guru says. "Houshmandzadeh always seems to find an opening. This offense can find a way to score points and he's a big reason why. He's amazing, a great player who plays with passion and executes well. He's very underrated."

After San Diego beat Seattle on Christmas Eve with Phillip Rivers' 37-yard touchdown pass with 29 seconds left, the Seahawks went out and got Russell and strong safety Deon Grant in free agency. Foes hit the Seahawks for 23 touchdowns and seven yards per attempt last season and last Sunday, Leinart still roughed them up for more than eight yards per pass.

"They could use their whole playbook and (the ends) had to sit and wait," Smith says. "(Jones) is a good athlete, a good technician. We don't want to get into a situation where they can use all those different formations."

Engram is a valuable guy in Seattle's West Coast offense. When he lines up in the slot, quarterback Matt Hasselbeck can check to a pass if a linebacker walks out with him or go to a run if it's a corner. But if Hall struggled in coverage Sunday in Cleveland, he continues to show he's a competent tackler in the running game.

With linebackers Ahmad Brooks and Lemar Marshall missing practice Wednesday and Thursday with groin injuries, the Bengals need a presence against the run, on the blitz, and in the fire when things get tough. Jackson, a Super Bowl MVP and nine-year veteran, missed a big tackle in Cleveland on Jamal Lewis's 31-yard run. But he has to be the guy keeping it together.

"Obviously Bruce is a guy I've studied because he's been in the league so long," Simmons says.

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