Bengal Morning Takes: Exorcising October

CINCINNATI -- While one of the bigger storylines revolving around the Cincinnati Bengals this week involves their somewhat abysmal play of late in prime-time road games, there's another equally alarming statistic they'll want to put a dent into Sunday night when they travel to New England.

Along with their 1-4 showing on the road in prime-time games with quarterback Andy Dalton leading their offense -- not to mention their 0-5 mark since 2004 on Sunday night -- the Bengals also are 19-25 all-time in the month of October under coach Marvin Lewis. Yes, that is a pretty obscure statistic, but when you consider it's the only month in which the Bengals have sported a losing record under Lewis' watch, it bears highlighting.

That's right, Dalton's nighttime demons aren't the only ones the Bengals will want to exorcise this weekend. They'll want to begin putting holes in the narrative that something goes wrong when Lewis gets teams to October.

In fact, the Bengals attacked that narrative last season when they went 4-1 in the month, grabbing four straight wins to start the month before finishing it with a Halloween night loss in overtime at Miami. They began last October's run of victories with a 13-6 home win against the Patriots team they are matched up with this weekend.

It's quite possible a win Sunday night sparks another romp through October, adding another good chunk in the narrative that Lewis' teams just don't play well in the middle of a season. If the Bengals beat the Patriots this weekend, they then have games against the Panthers, Colts and Ravens the rest of the month. Carolina has appeared beatable. Indianapolis has been up and down all season. And Baltimore lost on its home turf to the Bengals in the season opener.

Since Lewis became the Bengals' head coach in 2003, his teams have posted winning percentages of .538 or better in the remaining months on the regular-season calendar. In August and September, they are 22-18. In November, they are 24-18-1. In December and January, they are 28-24. August and September and December and January get lumped together because of the few years when seasons have begun in August and ended in January.

The Bengals' focus isn't on exorcising their October demons, but they simply care about winning this game because it's the next one on their schedule, and because it's a big one. As they try to continue to build off their strong start, it's incumbent upon them to play this new month the very same way they did in the last.