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Bengals: 5 Must-Win Games After the Bye

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Dec 14, 2014; Cleveland, OH, USA; Cleveland Browns quarterback Johnny Manziel (2) meets with Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton (14) after the game between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals at FirstEnergy Stadium. The Bengals beat the Browns 30-0. Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

2. Week 9: vs. Cleveland Browns

Thursday 11/5 at 8:25PM EST

When most Bengals fans think of the Cleveland Browns, they think of the team as the punching bag of the AFC North with a tortured fanbase, a team with the league’s worst quarterback situation and a franchise that has had a lack of direction for far too long. But Bengals fans, myself included, often overlook this Browns team. Despite the fact that Cleveland is 2-5, it still has talent on the roster.

While the Bengals may have swept the floor with the Johnny Manziel-led Browns in a 30-0 victory in Week 15 of last season, they also lost 24-3 in the most heartbreaking defeat of the 2014 season. And the Bengals’ blowout loss came in an eerily similar circumstance last year; the Bengals were playing at home, on Thursday Night Football, in Week 10 (just a week later in the season than the matchup taking place this season).

With Josh McCown‘s injury struggles and the Browns’ crummy record, I fully expect Johnny Manziel to earn the start in this game. But don’t be fooled; Manziel is much better this season than the player who couldn’t move the offense in Cincinnati’s 30-0 decimation last year. And let’s not forget that in Cincinnati’s heartbreaking Week 10 loss last season, Andy Dalton was a nightmare against a stout Browns defense. The key to beating the Browns is going to be Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard‘s ability to run the ball on Cleveland’s miserable run defense. Everyone knows that the Bengals can get the job done on Sunday afternoons, but the Bengals need to get the job done in prime time, too.

Next: Week 10: vs. Houston Texans

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