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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

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The Browns have a new starting quarterback after just one week. Last week's effort against the Pittsburgh Steelers was downright embarrassing, but I'm not even saying that I was disappointed for a victory. When the Browns are out of a game like that as early as we were, it's easier to stomach. Sure, it pisses us off that we were dominated overall, but knowing that we didn't have a chance doesn't have a long-lasting effect. Sure, I'd like to win every week. However, if we lose, I want to lose by three points. I'd much rather have the agony and sickening feeling in the pit of my stomach, wondering "why couldn't we have completed that final driver" or "why did our defense allow that final touchdown", instead of saying "there was no point in watching the game past halftime". Today's game is all about being competitive. Let's get to the breakdown of the game...

OFFENSE

Category Bengals Browns
Points Scored 27.0 (7th) 7.0 (28th)
Passing 181.0 (18th) 175.0 (20th)
Rushing 55.0 (30th) 46.0 (31st)
Total Offense (yards) 236.0 (25th) 221.0 (27th)

DEFENSE

Category Bengals Browns
Points Scored 20.0 (18th) 34.0 (27th)
Passing 207.0 (23rd) 159.0 (7th)
Rushing 107.0 (17th) 206.0 (31st)
Total Defense (yards) 314.0 (19th) 365.0 (23rd)
- Quarterback
The advantage here is a no-brainer: Carson Palmer is leaps and bounds above and beyond Derek Anderson. Palmer's had the advantage of being in the Bengals system for several years now with two of the best receivers in the AFC in Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh. If Ben Roethlisberger was able to exploit the young secondary of the Browns, Palmer will look to do the same exact thing early on, just like he did last year in the team's 30-0 blowout. Anderson should provide for some better results than Frye did due to his quick release, but many of the fans will be hoping he falters early to pave the way for Brady Quinn.
- Running Back
Don't read much into the fact that the Bengals and the Browns were the 30th and 31st ranked run offenses in the league, respectively, for Week 1. Both teams faced perhaps the best run stopping defenses in the league, although it does show that the ground games are not a strength for these teams compared to their passing attacks. Jamal Lewis has faced the Bengals defense for many years, but the main issue will be whether or not he gets enough carries based on what the score is after halftime. The Browns have actually stopped Rudi Johnson in their past few meetings, which makes the running back situation close to even for both teams.
- Receiver
As much as I like Braylon Edwards and Kellen Winslow, they are far from making the type of impact that Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh can make on gameday. A lot of that has to do with not having an efficient quarterback under center, but that's the breaks in the NFL. Johnson desperately wants to get into the end zone so he can leap into the Dawg Pound. Let's hope that if he does score, the game isn't out of hand already so that the fans can toss him right back out. The real concern involves Houshmandzadeh though, who will probably be matched up against youngsters Eric Wright and Brodney Pool all day long.
- Offensive Line
As much as I've blamed Frye for most of the sacks last week, the fact remains that we gave up six sacks against the Steelers. The unit has a chance to redeem themselves publicly this week by holding off a less-than-impressive Bengals defense in front of a quarterback that gets rid of the ball quickly. Eric Steinbach will be facing his former team, but if you ask the Bengals, they're just fine without him. That's what having the same quarterback and the same offensive line for years can do for a team - establish continuity. If the Bengals were able to hold off the Ravens' blitzing, the Browns' chances of getting to Palmer aren't too great.
- Defensive Line
Neither defensive line is particularly strong. With a 4-3 defense, the Bengals feature Robert Geathers and Justin Smith on the ends of their line, a group that is stronger than their interior. However, looking back to last week, a lot of Willis McGahee's success against them came on quick halfback counters to the left side of the line. If the Browns are able to get that initial push, Lewis will reach the second unit fairly often. The Browns may be able to plug the line at times, but they aren't going to be the difference maker in terms of getting in Palmer's face.
- Linebacker
Cincinnati's been plagued by injuries at the linebacker position, but Ahmad Brooks is the person the Browns must keep away from Derek Anderson. Despite giving up a lot of yards on the ground last week, the Browns linebackers did a great job at forcing Roethlisberger to get some lucky breaks due to his mobility. Since Palmer is not as mobile, there's a chance that guys like Kamerion Wimbley and Antwaan Peek will be able to bring him down or force him to throw the ball away rather than pitching it for a completion. It's critical for the offense to do well though, because if the linebackers get fatigued early, we'll be killed by the fourth quarter.
- Secondary
I'm not excusing the secondary for giving up four touchdowns last week, but to be fair, they had their backs up against the wall all day long due to our offense. On two drives early on, the Steelers basically started in the red zone. Even if the Bengals don't have good field position to start off this week though, Eric Wright and Brodney Pool will need to tighten up their side of the field, because they will be facing a better quarterback and a better receiver. The Bengals' secondary relies on tipped passes to make or break their success, which boils down to how Anderson plays. If his ropes are on target, they could be picked apart often. If his ropes are behind receivers, the Bengals will have multiple interceptions guaranteed.
- Special Teams
I'm hoping that Dave Zastudil is back, because having Ernster in the game is just a downer, for whatever reason. A huge factor in this game involves the Browns' return game though, when you look back at how much the Bengals struggled here last week. They gave up a kickoff return to B.J. Sams of more than 40 yards, and he also nearly broke a punt return. Later in the game, Ed Reed actually returned a punt for a touchdown against the Bengals.
FINAL PREDICTION: Cincinnati Bengals 27, Cleveland Browns 20.
With everything that happened in Cleveland after last week's game, it may seem as if the team has already conceded. That is far from the truth though, because getting rid of Charlie Frye means the club admitted to their mistakes as soon as possible in hopes that they could "start over" in Week 2. The Bengals are coming off of a big victory over the Baltimore Ravens last week. While Cincinnati's offense handled Baltimore's defense extremely well, the defense almost gave it up despite having an unbelievable amount of turnovers. Cincinnati's defense remains a liability, but it won't deter them just yet.

This is the official gameday topic for the second game of the regular season, featuring the Cleveland Browns against the Cincinnati Bengals. All comments regarding the game should be posted in this topic. Enjoy the game, and GO BROWNS!!!