Starting tonight, and for the next month, the Cincinnati Bengals will make their living on the road.
The unbeaten Bengals (3-0) launch an arduous stretch of five consecutive road games when they face the winless Seattle Seahawks (0-3) in the Kingdome (9 p.m., Ch. 13). They won't play in Riverfront Stadium again until Nov. 4.
The scheduling quirk came about because of the Cincinnati Reds' pennant run in baseball. The Reds won the National League West, so they will host a playoff game on Sunday, Oct. 14. To accommodate the Reds, the Bengals will switch home dates with the Houston Oilers. Their three other road stops are in Anaheim, Calif., against the Rams next week, and in Cleveland and Atlanta.
To offset the effects of a short work week and another West Coast game on Sunday, the Bengals will train at a high school stadium outside Seattle this week.
"It's not really a square deal, to be honest with you," Bengals coach Sam Wyche said. "I think the league understands they've handed us less than a square deal."
Wyche shouldn't complain too loudly. He won't face a winning 1989 team until he sees the Rams in Week 5. And as a result of switching the Houston dates, the Bengals will play five of their last seven games at home.
The immediate issue for the Bengals, though, is handling Seattle's running game. Oxon Hill's Derrick Fenner rushed for 144 yards and three touchdowns in the Seahawks' 34-31 overtime loss to Denver last week. Fenner was Seattle's 10th-round draft pick in 1989.
The Bengals, 26th against the rush last year, have gone to a four-man front, with Carl Zander or former Terrapin Kevin Walker at middle linebacker. The new look has allowed an average of 87 rushing yards a game, 10th in the NFL.