Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
Aaron Doster-USA TODAY Sports
When the Cincinnati Bengals (9-2) take on the Cleveland Browns (2-9) at FirstEnergy Stadium on Sunday, the Bengals will have a chance to start a season 4-0 against ACF North opponents for the first time since 2009 with a victory. The Bengals have not swept the Browns in a season series since the Andy Dalton era began in 2011.
Earlier this season, the Bengals defeated the Browns 31-10 in a Thursday night matchup in Cincinnati. Tyler Eifert had a career game as he recorded three touchdowns receptions. However, in this matchup it is doubtful that Eifert will play because of a neck injury he sustained on a fumble recovery during last week’s win over the St. Louis Rams.
In the Bengals previous matchup with the Browns, Dalton completed 21-of-27 passes as he threw for 234 yards and three touchdown passes. The Browns had no answer for the Bengals pass attack, especially when it came to covering No. 85 in the red zone. The Bengals were able to maintain a balanced offense with a rush attack that totaled 152 yards in the game.
When the Bengals took on the Browns in Cleveland a year ago, the Bengals relied on a heavy rushing attack that totaled 244 yards. The run game was led by Jeremy Hill who recorded 148 rush yards and two touchdowns to lead the Bengals over the Browns 30-0. Hill, who is coming off his best game of the season after last week’s 86 yard performance against the Rams, will look to lead the Bengals past the Browns once more.
Unlike the previous matchup, the Bengals’ defense will take on an Austin Davis led Browns offense rather than a Johnny Manziel led offense. Davis secured the spot as the team’s starter this week after Josh McCown suffered a season ending injury in last week’s loss to the Ravens. Davis started in eight games for the Rams in 2014 and led the team to three wins, however he has only recorded ten pass attempts as a Brown this season.
Perhaps going against the Browns third starting quarterback of the season will bode well for a Bengals secondary that has been devastated by injury in recent weeks. Cornerbacks Leon Hall and Adam Jones are listed as questionable with back and foot injuries respectively while safety George Iloka is questionable with a groin injury. Nevertheless, the Bengals’ secondary played their best game of the season last week as they recorded three interceptions against the Rams’ Nick Foles.
The Bengals will be taking on a Browns team that has struggled immensely in 2015. If the Bengals are able to escape Cleveland with a win, they will start 4-0 against AFC North divisional opponents for the first time since the Bengals swept the division and won the AFC North in 2009. With the Pittsburgh Steelers up next in Week 14, the Bengals will look to keep in stride with the New England Patriots and the Denver Broncos for the best record in the AFC with a win over the Browns.