April 24, 2014

Sweeping The Bengals: Can The Browns Pull It Off?

Skrine2The Browns know the blueprint for beating the Bengals. For the first time in a long while, they also have the personnel to execute that game plan. It could mean the first sweep of the Bengals for the Browns since 2002.

The Bengals defense ranks sixth in the NFL giving up 18.6 points per game. They are seventh against the pass at 209.4 yards per game allowed and ninth against the rush at 102 yards a game. The bottom line is that they are a very good defense. They are also missing some players. Defensive tackle Geno Atkins and cornerback Leon Hall are out for the season. Linebacker Ray Maualuga’s status is up in the air with a knee injury. All three are starters for the Bengals and all three are impact players.

Offensively, the Browns beat Cincinnati in week four by spreading the ball around to seven different receivers, but Jordan Cameron had the biggest contribution. Cameron caught ten passes for 91 yards and a touchdown. The Bengals will obviously try to switch things up against Cameron this week and keep him from having another big game. Josh Gordon caught four passes for 74 yards in the first meeting. Greg Little was held without a catch.

The Browns won the game on the strength of their defense. They allowed just a pair of field goals en route to a 17-6 win. They did it by bottling up the Bengals rushing game, allowing only 63 yards and keeping wide receiver A.J. Green in check. Green finished the game with seven catches, but only gained 51 yards on those receptions.

Green has been on quite a run of late. He has had over 100 yards receiving in five straight games, grabbing 34 passes for 652 yards and 3 touchdowns in that stretch. He isn’t the only wide receiver having a good run in Cincy though. Marvin Jones, a non-factor the first time the Browns and Bengals played has 437 yards and seven touchdowns on the season.

Cincinnati also has a pair of tight ends that have impressive numbers when combined. Rookie Tyler Eifert and fourth year man Jermaine Gresham have combined for 683 yards and a pair of touchdowns. Another rookie, running back Giovani Bernard is dangerous catching the ball out of the backfield as well. He has three touchdown receptions and four plays of 20 yards or more catching the ball out of the backfield.

Given Cleveland’s struggles with backs in the passing game, look for the Bengals to use Bernard quite a bit, despite playing with tender ribs. The Browns will have to come up with a plan against Bernard.

You have to be encouraged with Cleveland’s chances defensively. In the first match-up, Joe Haden proved to be one of the few corners that you can put on Green in single coverage and trust him to keep Green from beating you. The area where I believe the Browns have jumped forward and may have the edge on Cincinnati is with the second cornerback spot.

To beat the Bengals, Haden will have to be on the top of his game against Green. You would expect that to be the case. The Browns will have to contain the running game of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Bernard. They have been handling the running game for the majority of the season, and there is no reason to expect any different this week.

Buster Skrine is the difference maker to me. Here’s a stat for you. Did you know that Buster Skrine is tied for third in the league with 15 passes defensed (according to NFL.com)? Part of the reason for that is your second stat of the week. No cornerback in the NFL has been thrown at more times than Buster Skrine this season. Pro Football Focus calculates that Skrine has been thrown at 79 times this season. He has allowed 42 receptions, and only three of those have been for touchdowns.

Buster has improved this season. He is capable of taking away the second best wide receiver the Bengals have. That’s the edge Cleveland needs to get a win in Cincinnati. The front seven can help by getting pressure on Andy Dalton. In the first match-up Dalton was sacked twice, but only hit two other times. Lately, the Browns have been getting after the quarterback. The team has registered eleven sacks in their last two games.

It isn’t a slam dunk by any stretch, but this game is there for the taking. If the Browns can pull off the win on the road, things will get really interesting.

(Photo Candice Vlcek for WFNY)

  • mgbode

    Dalton has 3INTs in consecutive games. We really need to continue the multiple INT games to put the pressure on them. I think we can control their struggling offense, but, even with the injuries, their defense is still good. It is going to come down to who can make a couple more plays than the other team. Really feeling like a 17-14 type game (one way or another).

  • Natedawg86

    Shut down Green and keep Bernard from making the big play, and we will win. Score early.

  • JHop

    Agreed. Say all you want about the Browns D/ST or Jason Campbell’s improvement, but whether or not the Browns win this game rests in the hands of Dalton. If he keeps throwing picks and sets the Browns up with good field position, then the game’s an easy win. If he’s throwing 30+ yard TD bombs to AJ Green like has happened so many times before, then this game will be a much a harder challenge.

  • JHop

    I’d go as far as to say that Green should be double-teamed the whole day. NO doubled Dez Bryant the whole game last Sunday night and it pretty much kept him out of the picture, ultimately stifling DAL’s offense. That same strategy might just apply here as well. Yes, Eiffert and Gresham and the other CIN receivers are good, but they are never going to change the course of the game in the same way Green can.

  • RGB

    How to beat the Bengals:
    1. Weeden on the bench…check.

  • Natedawg86

    Haden shut him down pretty good last time. We need to get pressure on the QB and not let him sit back there all day, or get outside the pocket

  • Natedawg86

    No more Ginger Bowls?

  • Jon

    #BustersCluster

  • CB Everett

    I feel like a hint of hope that we could actually beat them and contend, and that of course only means that this will end badly. “Hope is a dangerous thing.” -Red to Andy.

  • JNeids

    No doubt Skrine has improved this year, but I feel like he has improved since the first couple games. I could be wrong as Cleveland sports wear on my memory, but I vaguely remember thinking he looked bad the first game or two and wishing he would be replaced. If that was the case, I would love to see some of those stats minus the first couple games to see if he has improved even more drastically.

  • JNeids

    “But remember, hope is a good thing, maybe the best of things, and no good thing ever dies.” – Cleveland fan to Red

  • MrCleaveland

    The line is Cinci by 6. Seems pretty high. Might be worth it to wager a bob or two.

    This might be the Browns most important game since we went to Cinci in ’07 (and DA threw our playoff hopes away). It’s going to be fun to get all geared up for a game again.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    That didn’t work for us against Megatron, though.

  • Ezzie Goldish

    At the last game, near the end, the Bengals got some movement (though didn’t score) by constantly moving Green pre-snap until he ended up matched up with Owens, then throwing to him (I wonder if this is why McFadden will be seeing increased time). The obvious combat to this is going man-to-man most of the time, but that has its own drawbacks.

    Hopefully the bye week has given the Browns time to scheme in ways where Haden can stick with Green but the rest of the defense isn’t immediately obvious. Dalton is a QB they should be able to force into bad throws, and we’ll need turnovers to win in Cincy.

  • Natedawg86

    Green < Megatron

  • Rudy

    The Browns know the blueprint for beating the Bengals.

    Score more points than they do. Works every time.

  • JHop

    But did it work against Optimus Prime?

  • AL

    Bengal’s time was last year they got to play Weeden ,This year is Cleveland time sorry no more Weeden for them I hope !

  • Kildawg

    Haden has kept Green in check since they played in college (their game was always in Jacksonville). Not much has changed since both came to the NFL. Haden should be sticking to Green like Weeden to the bench, all day.

  • DCTribeFan

    New Browns Drinking Game:
    1) Shot at the ready for every pass attempt at Skrine.
    2) For every completion past the line of scrimmage, yell “BUSTER” and shoot it.*

    * Make sure you have a DD. And a VERY large bottle to pour from.

  • EZ

    John Madden’s Key to the Game.

  • FearTheElf

    Can The Browns Pull It Off?

    …Nope

  • CBI

    A Ginger Chicken Bowl sounds good for lunch.

  • BenRM

    So you’re saying there’s a chance!

  • mgbode

    the Browns will be the Timberlake to the Bengals Janet and expose them in front of the world.

  • BenRM

    +100 points to you, sir.

  • http://twitter.com/bbo13 B-bo

    The Wisdom of Solomon

  • Rudy

    I think the Bengals defense is aware that one good shot on Campbell and it’s Weeden time.

  • Rudy

    I think the Bengals defense is aware that one good shot on Campbell and it’s Weeden time.