Bengals vs. Browns: Three X-factors in the Battle of Ohio

CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 29: The line of scrimmage of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images)
CINCINNATI, OHIO - DECEMBER 29: The line of scrimmage of the Cincinnati Bengals against the Cleveland Browns at Paul Brown Stadium on December 29, 2019 in Cincinnati, Ohio. (Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images) /
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Cincinnati Bengals
D.J. Reader (Photo by Joe Robbins/Getty Images) /

Time for D.J. Reader to make his money

D.J. Reader was brought into Cincinnati this offseason to help solidify a run defense that was shaky at best last year. The highly sought after free-agent played great in his debut but against the Browns, he will have to take it up yet another notch in order to put the pressure on Mayfield.

The Browns have one of the best one-two punches at running back with Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb. In week one, they were the bright spots for a Cleveland squad that otherwise did not have much success. The duo combined for over 130 yards and did so at over 5.7 yards per carry. Establishing the running game will be paramount for them this week.

This is where D.J. Reader needs to become a huge presence in the middle of the Bengals front. He was brought into the organization with the reputation that he was better at run defense than rushing the passer. He’ll have to live up to that billing without any premiere running mates with Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels sidelined this week.

Reader may not stuff the stat sheet, but he does command the attention of multiple blockers on most plays. He’ll need to continue to do that to allow his fellow defensive linemen and the young linebackers to make plays. Forcing the Browns to be one-dimensional falls squarely on Reader’s shoulders and will go a long way in the success the entire Bengals’ defense has against Baker Mayfield.

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