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Bengals: Crossing Enemy Lines with Dawg Pound Daily

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Nov 5, 2015; Cincinnati, OH, USA; Cincinnati Bengals running back Giovani Bernard (25) carries the ball in the second half against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium. The Bengals won 31-10. Mandatory Credit: Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports

Stripe Hype: Austin Davis will get his first start in a Browns uniform and is the 24th quarterback to start since their return to the NFL in 1999. What is the general feeling around the fan base on starting Davis over Johnny Manziel?

Steven Kubitza: There are two different factions on this topic. Those wanting Manziel to start are in the minority, but they are much louder than the Davis supporters. Well, I would not go out and say there are Davis “supporters,” but rather those wanting anything else than for Manziel to play for the Browns. For those in favor of Manziel, there is a blind loyalty that does not make much logical sense based on his lack of maturity since being drafted by the Browns. Starting him would cause Pettine to lose credibility among his players, and that is much worse than losing any amount of games.

Those against Davis do not have much evidence, because he was rarely even talked about until he played Monday night against the Ravens. He had some success last season with the Rams, and should be given a chance. This season has been lost for awhile, so it would be nice to keep the Manziel circus on the sidelines even if only for a few more weeks.

SH: The Browns had a great 1st half before seeing it all melt away in the second. How much is this team missing Joe Haden on defense and Andrew Hawkins on offense?

SK: While Joe Haden has been one of the top corners in the NFL the past few seasons, he had not been doing great this year before suffering two concussions. His absence hurts more because of his leadership and overall football knowledge. Even on a bad day, Haden could be trusted over any other corner on the roster. But with an atrocious defense this season, the Browns have more problems than Haden could fix if he were healthy all season.

The same goes for the offense. The receivers are so small it is amazing that anyone would assemble such a group. Hawkins is a reliable target, but his absence has not done much to hurt the team. Bad blocking, no run game, and no receiving threats overshadow Hawkins being out.

SH: The Bengals defense did their best to contain Manziel in the pocket, What will Austin need in order to be successful against the Bengals? Do you see him more as a pocket passer or mobile?

SK: Davis will have to work from the pocket to have any chance of success on Sunday. That being said, he will likely be playing from behind all game, as the Bengals offense will torch what remains of the Browns defense.

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Gary Barnidge will have to factor heavily into the game plan. Him and Davis must work together the same way he and McCown did earlier this season. Barnidge must be focused on in the middle of the field, and on short yardage situations, with Travis Benjamin being the constant deep threat. Davis and Benjamin connected for a touchdown that tied the game on Monday, before that thing that I will not discuss happened to end the game.

SH: Gary Barnidge has been a huge part of the Browns game plan and success through the air. What has been the biggest change for him to see a much larger role this season than his past two?

SK: Barnidge’s success is because of Josh McCown. That, and the fact that he was the only healthy tight end for most of the season who is not just a blocker. The other option is Jim Dray, but Barnidge is much more reliable as a receiver.McCown’s style of play let Barnidge thrive and become one of the best tight ends in the NFL.

He has also helped his own cause by making some ridiculous catches this season, including one where he secured the ball between his legs earlier this season.

SH: Who wins, by how much, and why?

SK:  The Bengals are going to win this game and do so easily. The Browns will not be able to recover from the loss on Monday night, and the Bengals will score early and often.Bengals 31-Browns 20

We would like to thank Steven and Dawg Pound Daily for taking time with us this week to answer a second round of questions for us.

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