The (8-4) Cincinnati Bengals stopped all the naysayers last Sunday when they defeated an explosive (9-3) Kansas City Chiefs team 27-24. Despite most national media picking the Chiefs to win, the Bengals came out on top for the third time in a calendar year. The Stripes proved they could stop a high-powered Patrick Mahomes team while scoring some points of their own.
The “Battle of Ohio” comes through the Jungle as the Bengals take on the (5-7) Cleveland Browns for a second time this season. The last time these two teams met was on a cold Halloween night when the Browns dominated the game with a final score of 32-13. I would have to chalk this game up as the worst performance of the season for this Bengal squad. Check out the top football betting sites for betting on the Bengals/Browns.
Since that game, the Bengals have been on a four-game winning streak. Quarterback Joe Burrow has his team playing at a very high level; however, Burrow is 0-4 against the Browns in his career. Add in the Bengals only have one divisional win this season, making this a must-win game if they want a chance at winning the AFC North division and a home playoff game.
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference
The Jungle has been rocking this season and will be much more intense at game time. When Burrow takes the field, the noise level will be crazy loud by hyped fans in anticipation of this matchup. After all, Burrow has had some top-notch performances again the Titans and Chiefs in the last two weeks, so expect another outstanding performance against an instate divisional rival.
Burrow is playing more confidently, as his offensive line has provided outstanding protection, allowing him to make some big-time throws in clutch moments. During last week’s game, he did a fantastic job reading the defense while avoiding pressure and having an answer for everything. Nothing seems to rattle him.
Look for more of the same this week. I am sure all the conversations about the Browns beating the Bengals are getting old. This should be the added motivation needed for Burrow to check this off his list.
This type of production from the Bengal’s offensive line is precisely what head coach Zac Taylor and Director of personnel Duke Tobin envisioned when they assembled this group of players.
This line has as certainly been tested over the last few weeks with some of the best defensive linemen in Chris Jones (KC), Brian Burns (CAR), T.J. Watt, Alex Highsmith, Cameron Heyward (PIT), and Jeffery Simmons (TEN). This line proves that they can contain the best so that Burrow can be at his best.
The offensive line will be testt the right time.ed once again with game-wrecking defensive end Myles Garrett of the Browns. He has been a thorn in the foot of the Bengals and must be the main focus of neuralizing him from breaking up Burrow’s flow of the game. Bengals left tackle Jonah Williams has struggled with him in the past so he may need extra help with this elite pass rusher.
Another key matchup will be a defensive end, Jadeveon Clowney, against Bengals right tackle La’el Collins. This head-to-head will be much different than the last time these two matched up, for Collins has been playing his best football of late.
Here is where things get very interesting. Bengals top receiver Ja’Marr Chase did not play in the last matchup with the Browns. However, I am sure he will have an impact on this game. In his first game back against the Chiefs, he had seven catches for 97 yards which is impressive for someone who just missed four weeks of football.
Brown’s secondary is excellent, and they have one of the top cornerbacks in the NFL in Denzel Ward. When Chase was asked in the past by reporters, who was the most challenging corner he faced so far without hesitation, Chase said Denzel Ward. These two will undoubtedly go at it, which will be intriguing to watch. Ward has been nursing an ankle injury, so the opportunity for Chase to make some big catches are there.
While Chase was out, Burrow did not skip a beat as he counted on Tee Higgins in clutch plays. Last week Higgins had the catch that sealed the fate of the Chiefs. Higgins will match up with Martin Emmerson, a taller, longer cornerback. When Higgins’s number has been called, he has come up with some game-changing catches. Slot receiver Tyler Boyd had 60 yards on four catches against the Chiefs, so if the Browns can not get a pass rush going, it could be a long day for this Browns secondary.
Samaje Perine has carried the load as running back while Joe Mixon has been out with a concussion, and boy, has he shied in the last two games.
The Bengals finally figured out the best combination for running the ball, so this should be different from the previous game. The Browns will have their hands full, stopping Mixon and Perine. If the Bengals can get their running game going, they can control the clock while taking long shots down the field with their great receivers.
The Browns have some injuries at linebacker, so look for the Bengals to take advantage of this. Check out the top football odds.
Brown’s quarterback played his first game against Houston Texans last week since coming back from an 11-game suspension. He got off to a rough start but played well enough to get a victory. I can guarantee he will not receive a warm welcome when he takes the field in the Jungle.
The Bengals will need to keep pressure on Watson, and who better to do that than the H & H boys of Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Hendrickson has a favorable matchup with Browns left tackle Jedrick Willis, Jr. Hendrickson did not have his best game the first time, so look for him to wreak havoc on Watson.
It is no secret that the Browns are committed to running the ball. After all, they have two of the best backs in the NFL. If you allow running back Nick Chubb to have a big game, the chances of winning are much less. He has excellent contact balance and hits the gaps hard, making him extremely hard to bring down. Add in Kareem Hunt, and the Bengals have their hands full.
The great news is that Bengal’s defensive tackles, DJ reader and Josh Tupou are both back to secure the middle of the line. This Bengals defense held Titan’s Derrick Henry to just 38 yards and the Chief’s Isiah Pacheco to 66 yards. If the Bengals can contain the run, it will force Watson to rely on his passing game, which can bring more opportunities for interceptions.
I am sure Watson will try and take advantage of the Bengal’s secondary, who played lights out against the Chiefs. Watson’s two top targets are tight end David Njoku and Amari Cooper.
When it comes to slowing up top tight ends, the Bengals usually go with cornerback Tre Flowers so look for him to cover Njoku. Watson liked targeting his tight ends when he played for the Texans, and he’ll likely look Njoku’s way a few times in this battle. Njoku missed last week with a knee injury which might affect his game. Regardless, the Bengals must contain him.
Receiver Amari Cooper can also be a threat if left unattended. The Bengals are getting the worth of their money out of Eli Apple. He will have the task of slowing down Cooper, so having a solid pass rush against Watson would make Apple’s job easier. Lastly, keep receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones from any deep shots down the field. Bengal’s rookie Cam Taylor-Britt will be a great matchup with Peoples-Jones.
The Bengals will have to play smart football while not turning over the ball. Keeping pressure on Watson while containing the Brown’s run game is critical. If they stick to the game plan, they will come away with another divisional win as they march to the playoffs.
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