The Cleveland Browns are set to square off against the in-state rival Cincinnati Bengals for the second time this season, a few days after Thanksgiving.
In Week 1, the Bengals defeated the Browns 27-17 in Cleveland. The Browns are set to seek revenge on one of the surprise teams of NFL, to even things off for the season. AJ Green is rested and set to return this week, but goes against shut-down corner, Joe Haden out of the University of Florida.
Cleveland is coming off a dramatic win over Jacksonville, while Cincinnati looks to end their 2 game losing streak against the Steelers and Ravens. The Bengals are in a “must-win” ball game as they still hope to compete for the AFC North division title and a wild card spot. Cleveland looks at a tough schedule for the final weeks of the season as they face Baltimore twice and Pittsburgh twice, with a winnable matchup against the Cardinals in Phoenix in Week 15.
With 5 divisional games remaining this one looks like the one the Browns could put in the win column, actually the one they have to put in the win column. Even though a playoff berth has vanished (obviously), Cleveland still hopes for a good moral season and I believe 6-10 fills that hole, especially with 2 first round draft picks in 2012 (one from Atlanta).
The Red Rocket, Andy Dalton, is in for a tough time, Cleveland actually holds the #1 spot in pass defense in the league, only allowing around 165 yards per game. With TJ Ward out again, the secondary weakens a bit, but the defense still remains underrated for the type of season they have been having.
The Browns offense has been lacking in the point category all season, but still have ran a number of offensive plays this year. The X-Factor is that Cleveland has to spread the field more considering they have nothing to lose on the year, even though they lack a deep threat, I would try to throw to Greg Little (42 rec, 438 yards, 0 TD) or the return man/receiver Josh Cribbs (28 rec, 350 yards, 4 TD) deep early in the game to see if the Browns can open up the running game with undrafted RB, Chris Ogbonnaya.
Cincinnati sits at 6-4, but if you look at their wins (Cleveland, Buffalo, Jax, Indy, Seattle, Tenn), they haven’t played an ultimately tough schedule because their 4 losses include the Broncos (in Denver), San Francisco, Pittsburgh, and Baltimore. You might think I’m just saying this because I’m a Browns fan, but seriously don’t jump on the Bengals bandwagon because this team really isn’t that talented as they lack key veteranship and experience.
All three key offensive players for the Bengals (Dalton, Benson, and Green) have all had solid seasons, compiling above average numbers, which have led to those 6 victories.
This Week 12 matchup proves big for Cleveland as it sets the tone for the rest of the season. Pat Shurmur looks to lead his team to a victory about 4 hours south of Cleveland Browns Stadium.
Winning the state of Ohio means something right? Maybe just a lower draft pick.
About the Author
Written by Corey Rioux
A wise man once told me, "Sports are modern-day mythology." I tend to disagree. Proper grammar is optional. You can read my columns here: http://www.prosportsblogging.com/author/c_rioux23/ You can follow me on twitter at: @CoreyRioux You can contact me via email at: firstname.lastname@example.org