The AFC North features a divisional clash that should be one of the best games in the NFL in Week 9. Both the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns are coming off their own disappointing losses, looking to bounce back in one of the best divisions in football.
The Bengals and Browns both have top-tier talent across their roster that should make for an intriguing and fun game to watch. One thing is for sure, this should be a tense and heated matchup with two rivals facing off.
For Cincinnati, they will have several key players that will need to step up. Cincy has advantages they must take advantage of, but they also must be able to limit some of Cleveland’s best strengths.
Here are three Bengals, specifically, who need to play at an exceptional level this Sunday.
Jonah Williams and Riley Reiff at tackle have tremendous trials ahead
This season, the Browns’ strongest area has been their pass-rushing from defensive ends, led by the imposing Myles Garrett.
Not only is Garrett leading the NFL with 10.5 sacks putting him in prime contention for Defensive Player of the Year, but his counterparts are having great years as well.
Jadeveon Clowney came to Cleveland during free agency and is having a resurgence with his 28% pass rush win rate that’s tied for second in the NFL with Pittsburgh’s T.J. Watt. Takk McKinley comes off the bench as an edge-rusher and has played extremely well with his 27% pass rush win rate that ranks fourth in the NFL.
Of course, Garrett is sitting atop pass rush win rate with his mark at 29%. The Browns have three high-quality pass-rushers that gives them the second-highest team pass rush win rate at 53%.
The divisional foe has the pass-rushing thing figured out. This will be the best group of defensive ends Cincy’s offensive tackles have squared off against. That means both Jonah Williams (left tackle) and Riley Reiff (right tackle) need to stand up to the challenge.
Both Williams and Reiff are coming off good performances even in the tough Jets loss.
Overall, Williams and Reiff have been solid this season shoring up Cincinnati’s pass protection for Joe Burrow. On the other hand, they have not seen anyone like Garrett since the Steelers’ Watt missed the Bengals/Steelers game in Week 3.
Garrett mostly lines up at left defensive end, which puts stress on Williams. Reiff should primarily match up with Clowney throughout the game. With that said, Cleveland is certainly capable of placing Garrett, Clowney, and McKinley on either side on the d-line. Regardless, Williams and Reiff have to hold their own and allow Burrow to pick on the opposing secondary.
All of Cleveland’s pass-rushers have been wicked and will be difficult to keep in check, but Garrett is the game-wrecker that has to be halted by the Bengals’ offensive tackle tandem.