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Thursday, October 31, 2013
Morning Stripes: Thursday night concerns

By Coley Harvey

It's game day.

In just 12 hours, the Cincinnati Bengals and Miami Dolphins will end this short week by running onto Sun Life Stadium's field and participating in a game that, at least for the Bengals, will be about one thing.

Survival.

This is one of those weeks where, if you're a team as beat-up and beleaguered as Cincinnati, you want the time between the first and last whistles to feel like the snap of a finger. You can't wait until the scoreboard is showing all zeroes and you're shaking hands after yet another victory. If all goes according to plan, the Bengals will emerge from this latest test as remarkably fit survivors.

Given the number of injuries that have ransacked the roster in the last two weeks, and the fact that after a physical eight-game gauntlet they have had just three days to prepare for the Dolphins, the Bengals know that Thursday night's game won't be pretty. They may not have quite as flawless a first quarter as they did against the New York Jets in Sunday's 49-9 thrashing. But they still can turn in a winning performance. Much like in their comparatively ugly overtime win at Buffalo three weeks ago, the Bengals understand there are no style points in the NFL. As long as they win, they are content.

Serious concerns have been raised, in Cincinnati and around the league, about these Thursday-night games. When teams have just a few days and little rest to prepare, particularly deep into the season, the players believe it's hard to perform at the same level they would if they had the time they're used to receiving between games. Perhaps having a bye week ahead of a Thursday game ought to be a league requirement, some say.

The irony of those complaints, though, is that they come at a time when the NFL may be considering expanding its Thursday-night rotation, adding games that could cause teams to play twice a season on that night. From a player's perspective, it's mind-boggling. From a dollars-and-cents perspective, it makes perfect sense.

On this game day, we kick off this edition of the Morning Stripes with one columnist's concern over the impact Thursday-night games really have:
All right, go get your game faces on, folks. Kickoff will be here before you know it.