The Battle of Ohio features two teams in very, very different situations. The Bengals keys to victory come from a Bengals fan (special thanks to contributions from Adam Marshall). Please note the differing levels of optimism between a Browns and Bengals fan. One has nothing but blind hope, the other has an undefeated football team heading into Week 9 of the NFL season.
Browns Three Keys to Victory
It’s safe to say the Browns are underdogs in this one, but with that being said they play the games for a reason. Andy Dalton has struggled in primetime games thus far in his career, but the Bengals seem to be on a mission to exercise their demons this year. I can’t lie; I feel a blow out coming on. I don’t even have the blind optimism I usually have on Sundays, or the ability to talk shit. I can only hope we play out of our damn skulls and Johnny goes all Texas A&M on the Bengals defense. Here are three things the Browns need to happen (but probably will not happen) to slow the Bengals roll and hand them their first loss of the season at Paul Brown Stadium.
Find ways to give Duke Johnson the damn ball
Duke Johnson gained 71 yards on three touches last week against the Arizona Cardinals. He only touched the ball once in the second half on a three-yard carry. It is inexcusable for offensive coordinator John DeFilippo to only give his best playmaker three touches. Duke has been exceptionable coming out of the backfield and is second among rookies with 33 catches on the season, only trailing Amari Cooper. The best way to take pressure off Johnny Manziel is to give him easy throws to make within the offense. Duke coming out of the backfield and lining up in the slot will be crucial, especially with receivers Brian Hartline and Andrew Hawkins out with concussions.
Pray replacements in the secondary step up
The Browns will be without corner Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner, both are in the league’s concussion protocol. Pro Bowl safety Tashaun Gipson is also questionable with an ankle injury and did not practice Thursday. Backup safety Jordan Poyer will be inactive as well with a shoulder injury. All of this spells doom for the Browns defense against a Bengals offense that includes AJ Green and Mohamed Sanu. Backup corners Pierre Desir and Johnson Bademosi will attempt to replace Haden opposite of Tramon Williams. The key word is attempt. Rookie Ibraheim Campbell will take Whitner’s place at safety in his first career start. They face a tall task lets hope they’re up to the challenge.
Win the turnover battle
Johnny Football has struggled to secure the ball during his time on the field this season (5 fumbles). It is vital he protects the football and makes smart throws. He has shown a tendency to force passes instead of making the smart choice to throw the ball away and live to see another down. The running backs, especially Robert Turbin (two fumbles last week), will also need to protect the rock against an impressive Bengals front seven led by Geno Atkins. If the Browns have any hope of winning they must make big plays on defense, a tall order considering said injuries to the secondary. The defense has forced a league leading 14 fumbles, recovering eight. They will need a little Thursday night magic and a poor performance by Andy Dalton to pull this one out.
Bengals Three Keys to Victory
You know what Johnny Manziel’s quarterback rating was the last time he played the Cincinnati Bengals? Fifty is considered average, so 55? Incorrect. 45? No. 35? Nope. 25? Not close. 15?! Ha nah. 5…? Y-nope. Okay, his QBR was 1.1. Supposedly a man paralyzed from the neck down quarterback’d a game for the Saints in 1999 and ended up with a QBR of 7.6. So besides the fact that the Cincinnati Bengals are undefeated at home (and away) this season, and Johnny Foosball quarterbacking the Browns, here are the three keys to victory for tonight’s game.
Establish Jeremy Hill’s Presence
The second year stud out of LSU (yes, he’s boys with ODB and underrated Jarvis Landry) is due for a big game. This year has been sort of a disappointment for Hill, a running back who led the league in rushing yards in the second half of last season, but hopefully he can pull one out under the lights.
Primetime Andy, Chill Out and Play Calm
Andy is 3-7 under the lights, with 11 TD’s and 11 INT’s. To put it in other terms, his QBR during these games is 26. Though, the new Red Rifle that has emerged this year in leading an undefeated team has yet played a prime time game, so let’s wait and see before ESPN plagues him as a dud.
Don’t Fall Asleep
In playing Cleveland, comes the strong desire to just fall asleep but in order to score a commanding lead, we have to stay awake till at least the second quarter. And even though our sleepwalking secondary could easily snatch Manziel’s lame duck passes, I still want them to at least remember the joy of trucking him on the INT return.
Tonight should be interesting.
Sports Chat Co-Founder