The Browns will travel down to Cincinnati Sunday to face the Bengals for round two of the Battle of Ohio this season. The Bengals are coming off of an overtime loss in Baltimore last weekend and the Browns will be well rested following their bye week. The Browns also have the better momentum going into the game after beating the Ravens two weeks ago to keep themselves alive in the AFC North.
Speaking of momentum, when Marvin Lewis was asked by Bengals.com writers, he said he doesn’t fear the loss of momentum from the Bengals four game winning streak earlier in the season. “The way we’ve fought the last two games, I don’t worry about that at all. We’ve earned the chance to right ourselves and still be in good control of the division.” Sitting at 6-4, the Bengals have a one and a half game lead over the Ravens and Browns, who are tied for second in the division with matching 4-5 records. This is a huge game for the Bengals if they want to create more breathing room for themselves heading into their bye week.
One of the key match ups of the game will be Joe Haden versus AJ Green. Green has quietly been racking up yards in the past month, having five straight games in which he has had 100 yards, a team record. In the first meeting of the season, Haden held Green to just 51 yards on seven catches. The Browns have one of the toughest defenses in the league, ranked fifth overall and 10th in passing. They rank sixth in run defense, so if the Bengals want to set the tone they need to come out fast with big plays from Gio Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis. If they can set the run game early, it will force the Browns secondary to have a harder time covering all the talent the Bengals have in their receiving corps, and Bernard who has shown he also has receiving talent.
When these two teams faced each other earlier in the season, the quarterback for the Browns was Brian Hoyer. Hoyer has since been placed on the injured reserve, and Jason Campbell has taken the reigns at quarterback for the Browns. Hoyer didn’t bring much starting experience in the first game, but Jason Campbell brings 73 games of starter experience. This is good news to the Bengals, as they almost always struggle against unfamiliar quarterbacks. Another piece of good news for the Bengals is the Browns are still struggling to find consistency in their rushing attack, so the loss of Geno Atkins may not feel so prominent this Sunday. The Browns have taken notice of Atkins’ replacement, Brandon Thompson, and how well he played last week in Baltimore. They know he can not fill the role of Atkins but realize that he will make it hard for them to establish their running game.
Overall the game will be a classic tough AFC North battle with gritty defenses and two offenses that are looking to find consistency. The Bengals are still in complete control of their playoff destiny and realize that a win on Sunday would put them in good position going into their bye week next Sunday to make a run at the division title.