The Cleveland Browns will close out the first half of the season when they host the Cincinnati Bengals on Monday Night Football.
The Browns come into the game with a four-game losing streak that has left them desperately clinging to their fading playoff hopes. The Bengals, on the other hand, have won four of their last five games but are just as desperate for a win to avoid falling to 0-3 in the AFC North Division.
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Cleveland has won four in a row at home against the Bengals in a series that is closing in on 100 games and has produced some of the stranger moments over the years, making it an appropriate game for Halloween night.
Here is everything you need to know as the clock ticks away until game time.
Records: Cleveland is 2-5. Cincinnati is 4-3.
Kickoff: 8:15 p.m.
Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland
TV: ESPN. WEWS in the Cleveland market
Announcers: Joe Buck and Troy Aikman
Radio: ESPN 850, 92.3 The Fan, 98.5 WNCX
Announcers: Jim Donovan, Nathan Zegura, Jerod Cherry (sidelines)
Last meeting: The Browns won the last game between the two teams, 21-16, in Week 18 of the 2021 season.
All-time series: Cincinnati leads the all-time regular season series, 51-46. The Browns have won seven of the last eight meetings between the teams.
Uniform: The Browns are styling for the national audience with their brown jerseys and orange pants.
our favorite gameday costume pic.twitter.com/AVVYD63Lb2— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 30, 2022
Weather: 62 degrees with a 33 percent chance of precipitation. Winds from the south at 6 mph. (weather.com)
Injury report: Browns – Questionable: tight end Pharaoh Brown (concussion, neck), cornerback Greg Newsome II (oblique), cornerback Greedy Williams (illness), linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah (knee). Out: tight end David Njoku (ankle), right guard Wyatt Teller (calf), cornerback Denzel Ward (concussion), offensive tackle Joe Haeg (concussion/injured reserve). Bengals – Doubtful: cornerback Eli Apple (hamstring). Out: wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase (hip), wide receiver Stanley Morgan (hamstring), defensive tackle Josh Tupou (calf).
The line: Browns +3 (Draft Kings)
A Few Things to Watch
Second-half woes: The Browns have been bad on defense more often than not this season, but things are particularly bad in the second half of games as they have allowed 101 points after halftime. That is clearly not a recipe for success, but it is even worse when compared to the Bengals, who have allowed just 30 points in the second half of games this season, a figure that includes zero touchdowns.
energized and ready to compete on Monday night pic.twitter.com/KDvSxyHghG— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 28, 2022
Cleveland’s best chance for a victory is to take a lead into the fourth quarter and then ride the running game to a win, but to do that they will need to find a way to break Cincinnati’s second-half dominance while also hoping their own defense finds its footing.
Related: Nick Chubb a bright spot in a disappointing season
The ideal way to do that could be on the back of running back Nick Chubb, who in seven career games against the Bengals has rushed for 662 yards and five touchdowns, including a 70-yard touchdown run last season that likely still haunts Cincinnati’s defensive players.
A big day from DPJ?: Wide receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones may not be a difference maker on a weekly basis, but he has made the most of his opportunities when facing the Bengals.
In three career games against Cincinnati, Peoples-Jones has averaged 22.5 yards per reception with a pair of touchdowns, including a game-winning 24-yard reception in 2020.
big praise for @dpeoplesjones for making tough catches pic.twitter.com/VtSn6KwLdV— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) October 28, 2022
Peoples-Jones continuing to make the most of his opportunities against the Bengals on Monday night and provide quarterback Jacoby Brissett with a reliable second option behind wide receiver Amari Cooper – especially with tight end David Njoku out of the game – is something the Browns are going to need.
The streak: The NFL is filled with strange moments, but nothing may be more bizarre than the Browns current streak against the Bengals.
Since the start of the 2018 season, the Browns have gone 7-1 against the Bengals, with the lone loss coming at the end of the Freddie Kitchens-era in 2019. Along the way the Browns have taken down the Bengals in the “revenge game” against former head coach Hue Jackson in 2018, the comeback win in 2020 after wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. suffered a season-ending knee injury, and the blowout win in 2021 after Beckham quit on the team and was released.
The streak also includes a perfect 3-0 mark against Cincinnati quarterback Joe Burrow, who has thrown three interceptions and taken 12 sacks in his career against the Browns, which Burrow admitted has been a problem (quote via cleveland.com):
“Last year they did a good job of creating turnovers, we didn’t do a good enough job of protecting the ball. You have to credit them for that. And then, going back to my rookie year. Same thing, they’ve been able to create turnovers on us. We moved the ball for the most part but we’ve just got to be able to protect the ball and the defense will be able to do what they do.”
The streak may not make much sense given the state of the Browns over the past four seasons, but if they can keep the game close into the fourth quarter, it may be the Bengals and not the Browns getting a sense of “here we go again.”
Kareem’s last ride?: The NFL’s trade deadline rolls around on Tuesday at 4 p.m. and there has been considerable speculation about what the Browns may or may not do.
Related: Browns change stance on Kareem Hunt
If Cleveland loses to the Bengals to fall to 2-6 on the season, it would not be surprising if they are sellers at the deadline, with Hunt being the most obvious player to be moved given that he will be a free agent after this season and the depth the Browns have built at the running back position.
There are a handful of other players in a similar situation that general manager Andrew Berry might consider moving, most notably right tackle Jack Conklin and cornerback Greedy Williams, so Monday night might be the last time fans see some familiar players in a Cleveland uniform.
A Final Quote
Offensive coordinator Alex Van Pelt on the offense’s lack of consistency (quote via a team-provided transcript):
“We all need to hunker down. We do some really good things at times and then we get in these lulls. We have to avoid those lulls. We had a couple of three-and-outs in the middle of some good offensive football. Trying to find ways to get out of those little funks in the course of the game when we are going three-and-out, three-and-out and then four-and-out with the strip-sack-fumble. Those are what we are trying to avoid. More consistency, moving the ball down the field and putting it in the end zone when we hit the red zone.”
Those are just a few things to keep an eye on; now it is time to have your say. What are you looking for from the Browns in Monday night’s game against the Bengals?