The Bengals have more than earned the right to nickname their home-field advantage this season. When the Ravens wake up Sunday and head to Cincinnati’s Paul Brown Stadium, also known as “The Jungle,” they’ll be up against one of three teams to go undefeated at home so far.
The Bengals are 7-0 on their own turf, perhaps increasing the difficulty of a near must-win situation for Baltimore. It’s not like Cincinnati has been dreadful on the road, but a 3-5 away record is nothing like the home mark.
Defensive lineman Chris Canty sees a different Bengals team when it’s at “The Jungle.”
“They definitely play mistake-free football. One of the things that really jumps out at you is they don’t turn the ball over a whole lot at home,” Canty said. “They seem to have a little more precision in there. They’re at their best in there. They’re obviously in their comfort zone, so we’re definitely going to have a challenge come Sunday.”
Some of the numbers back that up. The Bengals have committed just 10 turnovers while coming up with 18 takeaways in seven home games. On the road, it’s almost reversed - 16 giveaways and 10 takeaways.
The Bengals have scored 241 points to average 34.4 points per game at home. Away, they averaged 19.4 points per contest. The point totals in Cincinnati have been especially gaudy lately, as the team has scored at least 40 in each of its last four home tilts, averaging 43.5.
Defensively, the Bengals have also been better, averaging 16.7 points against (117 total) while permitting 21.4 per road game.
“Any team at home is dangerous, is very hard to beat,” cornerback Jimmy Smith said. “They’ve got the 12th man and it’s always hard to beat somebody in their backyard. So it’s going to take a lot more focus and a lot more execution to beat them at home.”
The Bengals have already secured a playoff berth, but will be playing for a first-round bye on top of finishing 8-0 at home. Cincinnati coach Marvin Lewis admitted home perfection is among the team’s goals.
“It’s something we’d like to do, and we’ve got to play really good football to do that - in all three phases,” he said. “At the end of the year, it really won’t matter a whole lot because whatever happens after that is what is most important. Winning this football game gives us at least an opportunity to have a week off. We can’t control what happens with the Patriots, but at least we’ve done our job, and that’s all I can ask our guys to do, as I have all year long - just take care of us.”