Question No. 3: Can the home crowd step up?
What do I mean by this? How can the home crowd impact a game? Many people dispute the notion of crowd noise impacting performance on the field. I say nay. Nay. I said it.
The city of Cincinnati has been longing for something to cheer for since 2015, at least where the Bengals are concerned. At long last management has put together a roster that appears can take this team to the cusp and perhaps to the next level.
Home field should actually be an advantage. The last two home games have been far from it. I attended both games, and while I had a great time with my sons, the noise level was disappointing. Perhaps it was because the team fell behind early and the energy was sucked from the stadium. Perhaps too many “fans” sell their tickets to opposing fans. After all, some habits are hard to break.
Whatever the reason, the onus is on the home crowd to actually supply the home-field advantage. Kansas City can do it. Seattle can do it. Are those fan bases better than ours? I hate to think they are, though to be fair they have been through less trauma than we have.
The point here is this, I was at the 2007 opener with my best friend. It was coincidentally versus the Ravens. The franchise was fresh off a disappointing 8-8 season, but still boasted most of the pieces from the magical 2005 playoff team. It was a huge game, against a hated division rival, and I have never before, or since, been in such a loud environment.
The crowd noise was such that the stadium was physically vibrating. Coincidentally or not the Ravens committed a crucial false start on their last drive in our red zone. Ultimately the Bengals won that game, and the fan base played a huge part in the win.
This team NEEDS that kind of support. The “Jungle” needs to become the JUNGLE once again. A false start penalty, a delay of game, a missed route by a receiver can be the margin between potentially winning the division, or losing another winnable home game.
Bengal nation needs to show up Sunday and provide this team with the type of atmosphere that winning franchises boast.
If these three questions can be answered Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium against the Ravens, perhaps Bengal fans will find a Christmas gift that we haven’t had since 2015 — A potential AFC North title.