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Bengals vs. Browns Gameday Thread

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It's been awhile since the Browns have beaten someone in the AFC North, and coming off of a depressing loss to the Pittsburgh Steelers doesn't make that statistic any better. This week, the Bengals are back for the second meeting between the teams this season. The last time these two teams met came in Week 2, when the Browns suffered our worst defeat of the season in a 34-17 loss. The Browns have done better defensively since then, which has allowed our team to stay very competitive, but the offensive execution at crunch time hasn't helped them out. That may change this week, because we aren't facing a "bad" defense, or a defense that's good in one area or bad in another. Statistically, we are facing the worst team in the National Football League defensively. Unfortunately, we're also facing one of the best offensive teams. Just a note, the reasoning behind the elf logo this week is because the Browns will be wearing some throwback uniforms. Now, let's get to the breakdown of the game...

OFFENSE

Category Bengals Browns
Points Scored 24.7 (5th) 17.0 (26th)
Passing 241.3 (6th) 173.9 (25th)
Rushing 101.2 (23th) 83.0 (30th)
Total Offense (yards) 342.5 (8th) 256.9 (30th)

DEFENSE

Category Bengals Browns
Points Scored 23.3 (25th) 20.8 (16th)
Passing 254.4 (32nd) 190.8 (7th)
Rushing 123.2 (21st) 136.9 (28th)
Total Defense (yards) 377.6 (32nd) 327.7 (18th)
- Quarterback
It's hard to argue about what Tony Romo is doing in Dallas, but right now, Carson Palmer is the hottest quarterback in football. He has thrown six touchdowns to only one interception over the past two weeks, with a quarterback rating near 130.0. Part of the solution for Palmer getting back into the offense has been the frequency of passing. To keep up with what their defense is allowing, Palmer has been throwing the deep ball often to "go for it all". Meanwhile, after throwing an interception in every game this season, Charlie Frye has not thrown a pick in his past two games. Unfortunately, he's only thrown one touchdown, a sign that our aggressiveness down near the red zone is down. Frye has held onto the football way too long at times though, and definitely needs to correct that issue as the season comes to a close.
- Running Back
The Bengals ground game is only ranked 21st in the league, but it has still been a far cry better than what the Browns have delivered with Reuben Droughns. Droughns will be returning this week, and although he struggled the first time he faced the Bengals defense, he should be able to have some success against a team that is really beaten up on that side of the ball. Jason Wright will supposedly spell Droughns, which is what we should've been doing all season long. The Bengals have a better back to spell than the Browns do though, in the very versatile Chris Perry. If the Bengals struggle to beat the Browns secondary, their ground game is still good enough to grind out yards and run down the clock late in a game.
- Receiver
Want to know what Chad Johnson has done over the past two weeks? Not much, just 17 catches for 450 yards and five touchdowns. It doesn't take a genius to realize how effective he's been since the Bengals have started throwing him the football, and I'm not even sure Leigh Bodden would be able to stop him at this rate. The Bengals still spread the ball around to Chris Henry and T.J. Houshmandzadeh, while the Browns attack has become two dimensional. Besides Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, no one else is getting the football. Where is Joe Jurevicius? or Joshua Cribbs? or Dennis Northcutt? The Bengals are dropping less passes as well, and although the Browns were basically even at this position to begin the season, that isn't the case now.
- Offensive Line
Why do I have to even bother with this ranking every week? We all know the opponent will be ranked better than us most of the time, and all I do each week is bash Joseph Andruzzi for his awful gameplay. The only reason our running game succeeded last week was because Wright knew how to hit a hole and accelerate forward. The good news for the Browns here is that the Bengals are still beat up on their offensive line with center Rich Braham and guard Bobble Williams out. Tackle Levi Jones is questionable, but in the end, Carson Palmer isn't on his rear nearly as much as Charlie Frye has been.
- Defensive Line
The starting defensive line for the Browns have only recorded two sacks this season. Meanwhile, the Bengals defensive ends have been sacking the opposition often this season, with Robert Gathers having seven sacks (and a knockout to Trent Green) and Justin Smith having six and a half sacks. The Browns have been able to stop the run better lately, but it's clear that we cannot get to the opposing quarterback late in the game. We saw it last week with Ben Roethlisberger, who had all day to throw during his fourth quarter comeback. I guarantee you that if the Browns are passing in the fourth quarter against the Bengals though, pressure will be all over Frye.
- Linebacker
What's this? It's finally a category in which I'm giving the Browns the advantage. Bengals linebacker Brian Simmons practiced on Friday for the first time in two weeks, but his status is still questionable. This group has been hurting all year for the Bengals, starting from Odell Thurman's suspension to David Pollack breaking his neck against Cleveland. The second-string of linebackers hasn't been anything to brag about, where as the Browns have at least had continuity at the position. Andra Davis needs to have more of an impact on games besides recording tackles though, because right now, the only thing he's good for his having his name first on a stat sheet rather than making a game-changing play.
- Secondary
The Bengals are the worst pass defenses in the NFL, period. They can't stop receivers, tight ends, and heck, they may not even be able to stop Terrelle Smith if we threw him out there. This has been the biggest difference for the Bengals this season, because they relied on their secondary to cause turnovers all the time last year. They did well in doing that against Drew Brees last week, but they also gave up over 500 yards passing, something that is incomprehensible. And, although Chad Johnson wants to leap into the Dawg Pound this week after scoring a touchdown, it'll probably have to come on a play in which Bodden won't be covering him (like zone coverage).
- Special Teams
It wasn't too pleasing to see the Browns give up a great return to the Steelers last week, but the Browns made up for it with Joshua Cribbs first runback of the season. Cribbs is just so exciting to watch every time he gets a chance, that in a way it almost makes up for our defense allowing some points. Everyone knows that our special teams has played well, so there's really no need to explain any further.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cincinnati Bengals 34, Cleveland Browns 28.
The Bengals shouldn't have any major issues in moving the ball against us, and will match their score from our Week 2 game. The Browns will make the game interesting though due to the Bengals porous defense, and we'll probably have a shot some time during the fourth quarter to either stop the Bengals from taking the lead or we'll have a shot to score a game-winning touchdown (notice that the separation between scores is only six, not seven). There won't be too many complaints after this game, since Palmer has been torching pretty much everyone. Don't get me wrong though, inside of me, I'm rooting (and even believe somewhat) that the Browns will finally pick up a win in our division and get some positive publicity for once.

This is the official gameday thread for today's game. Any comments you would like to make before, during, or after the game should be placed into this thread. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!