In Week 2, the Battle of Ohio features a common thread between the teams outside of geography. For both sides of the state, the franchises are licking Week 1 wounds and hoping to get back on track with a win.
The Browns suffered a defeat against the Eagles in which it seemed like neither offense wanted to take advantage of ample opportunities off turnovers. Brandon Weeden and his now-famous 5.1 passer rating would like to rebound against a Bengals secondary that ended up doing more bending than breaking against the Ravens.
If the Bengals can play like the team that was only down 17-13 one drive into the second half in Baltimore, then they should be able to handle the Browns easily. If they play like the team that rolled over in the second half, however, they could start the season in an 0-2 hole.
The match-ups appear to favor the Bengals, but some weaknesses will end up being exploited more heavily than others. Here are the match-ups to watch against the Browns:
Bengals’ Gap Discipline vs. Browns Offense
The Ravens offense ran quite a few reverses, play-action passes and misdirection running plays against the Bengals. The defense has always overpursued, but its extreme lack of backside contain was obvious against the Ravens.
The Browns may not feature as shift of a back as the Ravens have in Ray Rice, but they have two wide receivers in Greg Little and Josh Cribbs, who are adept at running the ball. Surely Browns offensive coordinator Brad Childress has a few tricks up his sleeve left over from his time with Percy Harvin.
And while Trent Richardson may not have played up to his pre-draft hype against the Eagles, he was still shaking off the rust from a long layoff. Plus, the Eagles feature the crafty veteran DeMeco Ryans at Mike backer, while the Bengals feature Rey Maualuga.
Look for Cleveland to run early and set up the play action. Not many middle linebackers bite as hard on a play fake as Maualuga does, opening up the middle of the field for posts and crossing patters.