Here we go again. A pretty familiar storyline as the Browns head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in a late season divisional game with very little at stake. Both teams are resigned to their fate of missing the playoffs. So this should basically be a walk through right? Don’t count on in. Both of these teams would love to win this game. If they can’t be the best football team in the entire world, at least they can be the best in Ohio.
After starting the season 2-1, the Bengals have embarked on a ten game losing streak which began week four against these very Browns. The Bengals defense has been miserable all season, allowing nearly 30 points per game in their eleven losses. Is it me or do defenses that feature Safety Roy Williams tend to under-perform? Even when he was considered a star player with the Cowboys, it was really just a few highlight tackles here and there. He’s been one of the most over rated players in recent memory.
Clevelanders will rejoice to hear that Colt McCoy will be back under center come Sunday. The rookie has missed the last three games with an ankle injury. During that span, veteran Jake Delhomme could not seem to jump start the offense. The Browns only managed to produce just over 14 points per game the past three weeks, capped by a 6 point performance last week against the Bills, who allow over 26 points on average. McCoy has shown he has the potential to develop into a solid franchise quarterback, and he will look to continue his development over these last three games of this season.
The Browns defense, which has improved steadily over the course of the year, will look to do a better job of containing the Bengals passing attack. When these two teams faced off earlier this year the Browns allowed Terrell Owens to get loose for 222 yards and a score. That, however, was before the emergence of another Browns rookie, Joe Haden. Haden leads the Browns with five interceptions, and he has helped to make them a dangerous team to throw the ball against. The Browns with their eighteen interceptions are tied for third among all NFL teams. The match up of Haden and the Browns secondary against Owens/Ochocinco/Palmer and the rest of the Bengals sometimes dangerous passing attack should be interesting to watch.
Though we have to look at the numbers, it’s games like this where you can pretty much throw them out the window. The outcome of this game will be decided simply by who is more motivated. Both of these teams have shown that they can beat the other. The talent level is reasonably comparable. Which team is going to come out and execute a game plan, take care of the ball and do the little things that lead to winning football. It’s certainly anyone’s game, but with Coach Eric Mangini in a dog fight to keep his job for next season, I’d look for him to have his team motivated. Certainly more so than the Bengals who have seemingly mailed this season in, along with their Coach Marvin Lewis, who probably will not be back next season.
About the Author
Written by Fran Berkman
Francis (Fran) Berkman is a graduate of Cornell University in Ithaca, NY with a BS in Human Development. He is currently working towards a master's degree in journalism at Hofstra University. He lives in Massapequa, NY.