HOUSTON - The Bengals will open the playoffs Saturday in what is considered the loudest stadium in the NFL.
At up to 118 decibels, the noise level heard at Reliant Stadium in Houston is loud enough to do damage to anyone's hearing.
"You know when you leave a stadium like that you probably experienced some ringing in your ears and some kind of muffled sensation with your hearing, and that may be temporary, but if you do it again and again it could be permanent," said Stephanie Lockhart, the director of audiology at the University Cincinnati Health Center.
By comparison to the nearly 120-decibel readings measured at the Texans' home field, 9 On Your Side's Anthony Mirones could only get a decibel meter to peak at just over 100 while driving around the city of Houston with his car stereo turned up as high as it could go.
In addition potentially damaging the players' hearing, extreme noise levels could impact the ability of Andy Dalton to successfully call out audibles at the line or scrimmage or for the Bengals defense to make adjustments on defense.
While the Bengals won't be able to block out the noise entirely, Lockhart said there are a few ways the players can safeguard against hearing issues on Saturday. One of the best ways they can do so, Lockhart added, is to wear a simple set of earplugs that can be purchased from any neighborhood drugstore.
Of course, another way the Bengals could guard against the extreme noise at Reliant Stadium would be to jump out to an early lead.
I guess we'll find out which approach the Bengals take on Saturday.