Good Thursday morning, folks.
Last week I wrote about the perfect end to the regular-season schedule that the Cincinnati Bengals are trying to attain. Their primary hope is to go 4-0 to close out the season. By posting a 12-4 record, they would increase their chances of getting home-field advantage in the playoffs, and have a possibility of enjoying a first-round bye as one of the two higher playoff AFC seeds.
They could be right. But even if they go 4-0 the rest of the way, the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots, teams that are just ahead of them in the playoff chase, could also win out. If that happens, Cincinnati may be fortunate to hold on to the No. 3 seed. That's not a bad thing.
In order to obtain that third seeding, they have to go through Indianapolis at home Sunday. The Colts currently have the No. 3 seed, but a Bengals win would not only snatch it from them, it would give Cincinnati an important tiebreaker over Indianapolis in case the teams have the same record by the end of the regular season. As players from both sides have been saying all week, this is a very important game.
In addition to a perfect month of December, the Bengals are seeking to maintain a perfect home record (currently 5-0).
Can they achieve it?
Given the way the Bengals have played at Paul Brown Stadium this season, there is a good chance they could keep it going for an 8-0 finish. It's difficult to win every game at home, but their confidence appears to be picking up there.
As we get this edition of the Morning Stripes going, we take a look at whether they can sustain their home play:
The Cincinnati Enquirer's Paul Dehner Jr. has this story pondering the very same question. Of course, including a Super Bowl run, the Bengals would have to go 10-0 at Paul Brown Stadium before the season is over. Also in that link is a note about offensive tackle Dennis Roland who was re-signed Tuesday -- the same day he said he was scheduled to go to Pittsburgh for a tryout.
Sticking with the offensive line theme, Bengals.com's Geoff Hobson takes a look at the odds left tackle Andrew Whitworth continues to play left guard. It doesn't sound like it's out of the realm of possibility for his coaches, and it certainly hasn't disappeared from Whitworth's mind, either. The All-Pro tackle moved to guard during last Sunday's 17-10 win at San Diego when left guard Clint Boling was lost with a torn ACL.
The quarterback Whitworth has protected the past three years would end up on the bench next season if my colleague Mike Sando had his way. In this ESPN Insider piece, Sando states his case for why the Bengals would be smart to draft a quarterback in May.
Finally, we'll round this out with a little bit of old news. We wrote in Wednesday's Stripes about how punter Kevin Huber was named honorable mention to ESPN's Punter of the Week awards that are compiled by ESPN Stats & Info's Mark Simon. Well, later that day, the AFC tabbed him as its special teams player of the week. It was the first time in Bengals history that a punter had claimed that honor. You can read a little about it from the Dayton Daily News.