It’s the second edition of the Battle of Ohio for the 2016. The first matchup didn’t go well for the Cleveland Browns as they lost to the Cincinnati Bengals 31-17 in a game that didn’t seem very close as the Bengals put up 559 yards of total offense including 270 on the ground.
As the Browns are coming off the bye, many wonder if this team can win one of the final four games or face the dreaded 0-16 record. While they had taken steps defensively, the offense was spiraling out of control.
In comes RG3…
The quarterback makes his return after missing the last eleven games with a broken bone in his shoulder. He could be the spark this offense has needed all season.
His arm should be a blessing to the pass attack which has lacked that deep threat this offense can use with Terrelle Pryor and Corey Coleman.
Griffin’s mobility can also be a threat and could very well open the running game for Isaiah Crowell and Duke Johnson which have been missing on the ground since the New England game.
Matchup to watch
Cornerback Briean Boddy-Calhoun vs Wide Receiver Tyler Boyd
With AJ Green still out with injury, rookie receiver Tyler Boyd has taken a larger role in the Bengals offense. In the last three games, the receiver out of Pittsburgh has caught at least four passes and had at least 50 receiving yards in each game including four for 66 yards in last week’s win against Philadelphia.
Briean-Boddy Calhoun was a name Browns fans had never heard of when we claimed him off waivers following the preseason. Each week, he’s getting better and better and earning more recognition.
The undrafted rookie out of Minnesota has become one of the bright spots on the struggling 0-12 Browns. With two interceptions and seven pass deflections, he’s arguably the best defensive back on this year’s team.
Last game against the Giants was the best of his pro career. He was targeted eight times and only gave up two catches for 37 yards. Now while one of those was for a touchdown, he was the highest graded cornerback in the NFL by Pro Football Focus for Week 12.
Boddy-Calhoun can continue building off his momentum and can open up more eyes by keeping one of the top rookie receivers in check and maybe just helping the Browns win their first game.
Keys to the Game
Get the run game going
The forecast for the game doesn’t look promising. It’s currently going to be snowing and a lot of it. Not the ideal conditions to be throwing the ball around especially in Cleveland.
This is the prime game to get the Duke and the Crow to emerge again in the backfield. They’ve shown they can catch but let’s get them back to why they’re in Cleveland, running the ball.
Even get RG3 going with some read options and quarterback designed runs. If the Browns are going to win, they have to run the ball effectively in the snow.
The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t done a good job of keeping Andy Dalton upright this season. They’re 26th in the NFL for times sacked with 32, to compare the Browns are last with 45 times sacked.
The Browns defense is last in the NFL for getting after the quarterback. They drafted guys who were known in college to go get the quarterback and it hasn’t shown so far.
In order to win on Sunday, they need to find a way to get after Andy Dalton. Force him out of the pocket and hope he slips up in the wet, snowy conditions.
Browns 12 Bengals 10
I don’t expect this to be a very high scoring contest because of the weather being a major factor. I also don’t expect the quarterback play being a major factor.
The running game will be the key to this game. Jeremy Hill ran wild on the Browns defense in October while the Browns running backs has been M.I.A. since Week 5.
Whoever can keep their run game going all four quarters will come out on top and I have this feeling it’ll be the Browns finally winning their first game of 2016.