April 18, 2014

Browns-Bengals: Three Things For Power In The AFC North

Today’s the biggest game the Browns have played in quite some time. With Cincinnati’s bye next week, a win today would setup the Browns needing a win over the Steelers to pull to even with the Bengals in the AFC North race. First things first, however, so let’s talk about how the Browns can pull off the season sweep against the Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium this afternoon.

brownsbengals

1. Weather or Not

The weather this afternoon in Cincinnati is supposed to be brutal with high winds and possible thunderstorms. Andy Dalton struggled in the Baltimore wind last week in an overtime loss. The Browns have nearly all of their effective offense come via the passing game. Because of this and the fact that both of these squads have strong defenses, you should expect another low-scoring affair, similar to the 17-6 Browns win in Cleveland.  Because the high winds could effect passing, kicking, and punting, field position will be at a premium.

So, winning the turnover battle is critical. If the Browns can turn the field position around and get their defense or special teams to set them up with a short field, it could make all the difference. Jason Campbell’s greatest skill thus far has been avoiding turnovers, and he’ll need to keep that rolling today.

2. Out of the Backfield

When we’re talking backfield receptions, I’m talking about Chris Ogbonnaya vs. Gio Bernard. Both backs have a knack for making catches out of the backfield. Ogbonnaya’s had key recpetions late in two of the Browns’ four wins, including the first Cincy game where he had 5 for 21 yards and a touchdown. In all, he had 10 touches for 48 yards. As for Bernard, he’s only gotten better since the Browns faced him in Week 4. In that first matchup, he had 6 catches for 38 yards (16 total touches for 75 yards). Whoever prevents the screen pass or toss out to the flat score may swing the game their way.

3. Defensive Tenacity

The Browns are where they are because of their aggressive defense. I’m most concerned about Bernard out of the backfield, but the Bengals also have two tight ends that can exploit our linebacker coverage at times in Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert. Each of them have 300+ receiving yards and 30+ receptions, thought they each have only one TD. I know Joe Haden can hold his own against A.J. Green (who had 7 for 51 yards in their last matchup), and Buster Skrine has been improving each and every week, but it will be how the Browns cover the middle of the field in the short-to-intermediate passing game that I’m really looking at as a key.

The Browns’ safeties have been heralded for their run-stopping ability. T.J. Ward leads the league in run stops for safeties with 20 (five more than any other safety), and Ray Horton called Tashaun Gipson his defensive MVP of the season this week for his lack of mental mistakes and his better-than-expected tackling. Gipson had his best statistical showing against these Bengals, according to Pro Football Focus, with 4 stops (constituting an offensive failure) and graded out with a +1.6 rating with most of that attributed to his pass coverage.

The Browns don’t blitz their safeties very often, but when they do, it’s pretty effective. They’re 4-for-10 in terms of generating “pressure” on a safety blitz (defined as a sack, hit, or hurry).

 

  • saggy

    I really don ‘t get why Ogbo doesn’t get the ball more. It’s like Jerome Harrison all over again…

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    He’s clearly the best they have to me. I like the combo of him and Fozzy, honestly.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    Browns probably had two good TD opportunities there and missed. HADEN!

  • saggy

    can’t understand how Campbell misses that throw – it’s the NFL, man. it’s easy for a pro QB.

  • Harv 21

    some bad QB play for us early. That fade to Little way too late.

    Norv is making perfect play calls – Little was wide open on the batted ball, and RBs are getting huge holes against over aggressive pursuit. Browns fans love complaining about bad play callers; good ones get ignored.

  • Harv 21

    Is Dalton’s hair red or he is he melting?

    Dalton is as stupid-stubborn this game as the last match up. He’s gonna try to get it to Green and ignore everyone else. Wow.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Joe Haden: So. Much. Swag.

  • BisonDeleSightings

    So those were the guys making Colt McCoy look good at Texas!

  • FearTheRoo

    Seems like Campbell’s last two games were a tease. Really struggling today…

  • Harv 21

    Game on. Campbell, you have a tight end with hands too and the windy storms are coming. Think about it.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Was that Robertson giving up the TD?

  • Rudy

    Weedenesque.

  • Harv 21

    yes

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Thought so…figures.

  • Rudy

    Yet we go with McGahee…

  • Harv 21

    What the hell – that was on the snapper who was wide right by like 4 feet. Browns losing composure.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Lots of sloppy play by the Browns so far. Let’s let Dalton handle the brain farts, shall we?

  • Harv 21

    No need to panic even though we let them grab the lead back.

    But now we’ll see how mentally tough the Browns are, particularly Jason Campbell.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Just stop letting Dalton believe he’s good! This is just stupid right now.

  • Wow

    Well all that momentum is gone.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall

    All the streaks have occurred going one direction on the field. I wonder if the wind is a big factor. If so, it better be a big third quarter for the Browns.

  • http://www.waitingfornextyear.com Craig Lyndall
  • C-Bus Kevin

    WHAT THE CRAP IS WRONG WITH TE PUNT TEAM!?!?!?!?

  • Rudy

    Campbell looks absolutely awful.
    And we should not punt again.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Time t make some plays on offense. This is heading towards “hardest game of the season to watch so far” territory.

  • Rudy

    Unbelievable…

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I know the options at RB aren’t great, but is it possible the Browns just aren’t a great run blocking team?

  • Harv 21

    this is a team meltdown.

    If there is legit team leadership it needs to right the ship now. Someone make a play.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    Meltdown is right. Who’s the guy on this roster that pulls the heads out of rear ends?

  • Rudy

    Blood in the water…

  • Harv 21

    but … but … Mary Kay Cabot said Campbell was playing elite and … and …

    Just remember, folks, both Campbell and Weeden were first round picks. So, help ain’t necessarily imminent.

  • saggy

    How could this team NOT be looking for a QB off the wire? Don’t they feel how important this season is? they’ve got a chance to win the division.

  • maxfnmloans

    So, did she really think he was elite or was she just ameliorating the truth for her poor Dad that she locked away in the old folks home?

  • saggy

    i’m so curious to see if they’ll go with Weeden

  • maxfnmloans

    I’m just happy everyone should be able to agree that qb is priority #1 in the offseason

  • Rudy

    Crazy as that would have sounded 30 minutes ago….

  • FearTheRoo

    Went from thinking “Browns will blown them out” to “Browns are going to get blown out.” Everything that could possibly go wrong has. Campbell is playing worse than Weeden.

  • Harv 21

    At halftime, I do not like the look in Campbell’s eyes. Not the same guy as in the tough KC environment. Looks like the hurries and hits have affected him.

    And no, not Weeden. He was born with that look in his eyes. I’ll take my chances with a guy who has at least periodically handled pressure.

  • Big Z

    Let’s see who’s talking about the playoffs come Monday! Talk about jumping the gun. Yet another opportunity blown by the league’s most cursed franchise. Oh well, maybe next year…

  • Brian Konrad

    Bobby Rainey has three TD’s down there in Tampa Bay. He was deemed expendable by these Browns.

  • Big Z

    F’real. I’m not sure why folks in the media were like “why isn’t the city as high on Campbell as they were on Hoyer?” Hello? It’s because he’s been a loser in the league since he took his first snap.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I’ve decided the Browns just can’t run block.

  • C-Bus Kevin

    I hate myself for getting excited about this game. I just can’t believe this is the best they could do with 2 weeks to prep. Just miserable.

  • saggy

    Campbell has always stunk. he got hot for a game. plus, next to weeden, he certainly looks like Joe Namath. He’s terrible.

  • Rudy

    At least you’ll have a lot more spare time on Sundays the rest of the year.

  • tsm

    The simple truth is that Campbell reverted to form. There is a reason he was released twice and traded once. He has been playing over his head. Now………………on to the draft!