Battle of Ohio Take 2: Bengals at Browns Preview
Nov 6, 2014; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Brian Hoyer (6) throws a pass during the third quarter against the Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Andrew Weber-USA TODAY Sports
The first round was ugly for the Bengals. It was a week 10 embarrassment at Paul Brown Stadium on Thursday Night Football with the Browns ending the home undefeated streak 24-3 over the Bengals. A game that could come back to haunt the Bengals, if they can’t find a way to win this matchup on Sunday. Since the loss to the Steelers last week, the Bengals must approach this game as a must win, if they still want a shot to win the division.
The Browns capitalized on mistakes by the offense and got constant pressure to Andy Dalton. They blanketed the Wide Receivers and did not let AJ Green and Mohammed Sanu to find much ground without having someone in tight coverage. The Browns offense exposed the holes and took advantage of a struggling defense on the ground.
Cincinnati Bengals Keys to the Game:
The Bengals need to get a balanced offense going early and often. They can not abandon that game plan, like they did against Pittsburgh. They need to find ways to get the ball to their play makers like AJ Green and Jermaine Gresham. They need to find a way to keep Hayden from creating chaos on the Bengals passing game.
The defense will need to shut down Johnny Manziel. He is starting his first NFL game and forcing rookie mistakes will be key to gaining turnovers and controlling the game. Collapsing the pocket is Manziel’s biggest enemy, he loves to escape pressure get to the outside to throw. Forcing Manziel to stay in the pocket and throw could help the Bengals with knocking down passes and getting to him often.
Cleveland Browns Keys to the Game:
The Browns offense will not be under veteran management like it was in their previous matchup. They must stick to Manziel’s strengths and keep him from being a pocket throwing quarterback. He isn’t a tall quarterback who has good vision over his offensive lineman, he will have to develop into more of a Drew Brees mentality. It will take experience though and in the midst of a playoff hunt, this could prove to be the best move or stupidest move of the season.
The defense must do much of the same as they did in week 10. Shutting down the offense will be the answer to winning the game. If they can win in the turnover battle, they could give the Browns the opportunity to sweep the season series away from the Bengals and dash the Bengals attempts at the division crown. Something the Browns haven’t done since 2002.
Bengals seem to struggle in night games and outside of the Pittsburgh debacle last week, have been very successful on the road. If they find a way to keep their road winning way, they would eliminate the Browns from the division battle. Bengals find a way in this game to avoid embarrassment, 24-17 win over Cleveland.