Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals - Official Game Thread

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CLEVELAND BROWNS (0-3) WEEK 4 CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-3)
VS.
Date: September 28, 2008 Location: Cincinnati, OH
Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium
TV: CBS
Favorite: Bengals by 3½
Radio: WMMS, 100.7 FM Over/Under: 44½
SBN Coverage: Cincy Jungle Announcers
Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon

The Battle of "O-Win-No" seems a little more appropriate, as the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals each enter this game with an 0-3 record. The Browns need to build some momentum heading into the bye week. This game literally means everything in the world to the futures of both Derek Anderson and Romeo Crennel. With a win, and I mean a good win, they will both last beyond the bye week. With a loss, we will be looking ahead to next season. The Bengals' problem is their defense -- if you can't stop anybody and your offense can't compete in a shootout anymore, then what chance do you have?

Can the Browns finally get their first victory of the season? Let's kick off the preview with the overall team statistics thus far...

OFFENSE

Category Browns Bengals
Points Scored 8.6 (32nd) 13.3 (29th)
Passing 122.7 (31st) 152.0 (26th)
Rushing 71.3 (30th) 86.7 (25th)
Total Offense (yards) 194.0 (32nd) 238.7 (30th)

DEFENSE

Category Browns Bengals
Points Scored 22.0 (18th) 22.3 (20th)
Passing 202.0 (18th) 178.7 (12th)
Rushing 145.0 (25th) 174.3 (28th)
Total Defense (yards) 347.0 (23rd) 353.0 (24th)

 

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Quarterback

I was originally going to give the Bengals the edge here, but when I heard that Carson Palmer was ruled out due to injury, the edge goes back to Derek Anderson. Though he has not performed well over the first three weeks of the season, he has a lot more starting experience than Ryan Fitzpatrick does. Anderson's season is on the line here -- if he starts off the game with a hot hand, then he will live to see another day as a starter. If he throws interceptions or leads several three-and-outs in a row, then Brady Quinn will receive serious consideration from Romeo Crennel.

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Running Back

Neither the Browns nor the Bengals have gotten their ground games going -- each team is averaging less than 100 yards per game. In Lewis' case though, it seems to have more to do with the Browns falling behind and abandoning the run than it does Lewis having a sub par season. Reports have indicated that the Browns are committed to focusing their entire gameplan around Lewis this week, especially after his outcry for more touches following last week's game. Crennel also stated for the second consecutive week that they will try to give Jerome Harrison a few more touches. Let's see if he's actually true to his word this week.

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Receiver

Right now, Braylon Edwards is struggling more than any receiver in football besides Chad Johnson. When you cancel both of those players out of the equation, it boils down to T.J. Houshmandzadeh against Syndric Steptoe. I think I'd take Houshmandzadeh any day of the week in that contest. The Browns still have Kellen Winslow at their disposal, but Anderson's chemistry with him hasn't been very high. The Bengals have had more support from Antonio Chatman on their depth chart to give them the slight edge heading into the game. Overall, the Browns still have the better talent.

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Offensive Line

Eric Steinbach, after originally being reported as having an injury that would keep him out 3-5 weeks, is ACTIVE for today's game against the Bengals. That means the Browns' line should be completely healthy, and thank goodness -- Seth McKinney was horrible last week and also affected the play of Joe Thomas. The Bengals haven't had a dominant offensive line the past several years, something that has corresponded to the struggles of Carson Palmer.

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Defensive Line

With the Bengals struggling to get their running game going and an inexperience quarterback under center, this is a perfect opportunity for Shaun Rogers to put the heat on. Remember, we originally thought that the Cincinnati Bengals had acquired Rogers in the offseason, but then the deal was void and we ended up getting him instead. The Bengals only have one sack through three games, so trying to win the battle in the trenches shouldn't be much of a threat.

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Linebacker

The Browns don't have playmakers at linebacker. On the other side of the field though, the Bengals don't even have guys that can tackle. Just take a look at their Week 1 matchup against the Baltimore Ravens, when they allowed Joe Flacco to run down the field for a 33 yard touchdown. Lewis could be in for a big day -- recall last season that he ran for over 200 yards against them in Week 2.

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Secondary

Though the defensive backs were a big concern heading into the season, Brandon McDonald and Eric Wright have definitely held their own. The Bengals have yet to record a single interception this season and are not known as having a shutdown secondary.

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Special Teams

Could this be the week that Joshua Cribbs makes the impact we've been looking for? If it's a high-scoring affair, then he'll get a lot of looks. Phil Dawson has been perfect this season, but he has not had any meaningful attempts yet. Hopefully he'll be able to make more of an impact on the game this week.

FINAL PREDICTION: Cleveland Browns 24, Cincinnati Bengals 9.
If Carson Palmer was playing, I was thinking of picking the Bengals to defeat the Browns. With Ryan Fitzpatrick under center, things aren't going to be good for the Bengals. They struggled to move the ball the first two weeks due to awful schemes and playcalling -- only Palmer's abilities were able to bail him out of that. Unless Anderson single-handedly loses this game again, we shouldn't have any problems taking care of the Bengals. Tough to say when you're 0-3 though, eh?

This is the official gameday topic for the Cleveland Browns in Week 4 as they face off against the Cincinnati Bengals. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!

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