This week, Marshall Faulk said, "Tis the season: Reach out and give a warm compliment to this week’s opponent. But keep it Professional Grade. This is your chance to tell the other team 'I like the way your face looks…when you throw an interception.' Or maybe 'Thanks for making us feel right at home…in the end zones.' Let’s see what you’ve got. Be creative."
I'd like to thank the Cincinnati Bengals for offering a nice little bit of motivation for the Cleveland Browns heading into this week's game. Despite the fact that the Browns shut Cincinnati's offense down last month in prime time, Bengals RB Jeremy Hill had the nerve after the game to say, "[Cleveland's defense] is probably worse than I thought, to be honest with you. ... They didn't do anything special to me. I mean, respect to them, they won the game. But that's all I'll give them."
Hill hid from the Cincinnati media this week, perhaps to avoid questions about his idiotic comments last month. It's been hinted at this week that the Browns' defense is well aware of what Hill had to say and will be looking to prove a point against him. We all know how the Browns responded to Josh Cribbs saying he wanted to jump into the Dawg Pound last week -- he had his worst return game and was hit so hard that he fumbled twice (losing neither one, unfortunately).
Mike Pettine on how D handling Jeremy Hill comments: Feeling disrespected elevates play but team won't overdo it, either.— Jeremy Fowler (@JFowlerESPN) December 12, 2014
The Bengals made the curious decision, at least in my book, to make Hill the team's new starting running back this week over RB Giovani Bernard. ESPN's Coley Harvey attributes it to the second half success that Hill has had running the ball compared to Bernard. The last time these two teams met, Cleveland established the running game early and built up a multiple possession lead. If the Browns can do the same thing in the first half this week, it takes away the Bengals' willingness to stay committed to the running game in the second half.
You also have Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis making the unnecessary "midget" remark about QB Johnny Manziel this week, so if Lewis wanted to motivate Cleveland's offense too, he made sure his team is covered on all bases.