Just a few weeks after a hard-fought 27-19 victory over the mighty 1-14 Cincinnati Bengals, the Browns look to end their season on a strong note in Cincy this Sunday. It will be another iteration of the “Battle of Ohio,” where the Browns are victors of three straight dating back to last season.
Off of that, let’s have a look at how it’s shaping up:
The Visiting Browns:
The Browns were once again done in by horrible coaching and a mounting pile of critical injuries, dropping a dismal performance against the Ravens by a score of 31-15. Off to a strong 6-0 start, head coach Freddie Kitchens scrambled to find ways to screw up something, somehow and indeed he did, conducting a two-minute drill towards the end of the first half about as well as a six-year-old playing Madden and ceding the momentum to the Ravens for the rest of the game.
With a win on Sunday, the Browns’ comparatively stacked team would only finish a half-game worse than a team that fired their head coach mid-season. To do that, Baker Mayfield would look to improve from a subpar showing in their last meeting, where he went a mere 11-24 with 192 yards and two interceptions. The defense will also look to try to slow Joe Mixon down a bit after the Bengals running back gashed the unit for 146 yards on 23 carries.
Odell Beckham Jr. once again appears on this week’s injury report, though unlike the previous eleven consecutive weeks, there is actually a legitimate chance the talented wide receiver misses Sunday’s game with an illness. Additionally, the lineman tandem of Chris Hubbard (Knee) and Kendall Lamm (Knee) were limited in practice all week and are currently questionable to play this weekend. Speaking of knee injuries, Pro Bowl snub center JC Tretter and oft-injured DE Olivier Vernon have been limited in practice this week from such ailments and are also currently questionable. Sheldon Richardson (Back) missed last week’s game and seeing as how he’s been limited in practice and listed as questionable, it may be in the Browns’ best interest to not play him during this meaningless bout. Finally, safety Damarious Randall (Foot) has been a full participant in practice all week and looks to be ready to go.
With a daunting road game against a team that just locked up the #1 pick in the draft, it’s going to take everything the Browns have in order to fight against a stingy divisional opponent and their own inevitable head coaching blunders. The entirety of the league has their eyes on this pivotal game, so the Browns will surely ball out to end their season!
The Hometown Bengals:
The Bengals somehow managed to score 23 points in less than half a quarter and still lose to the Miami Dolphins. It’s been that type of season for Cincinnati, as they’ve got just one win to their name this season. They started off strong in Cleveland a few weeks ago before faltering late and will look to avenge those efforts this weekend. Andy Dalton turned in a rather pedestrian performance in that game, going 22/38 with 262 yards and an interception that resulted in six points going the other way. As previously mentioned, Dalton would benefit greatly from an encore performance from Joe Mixon, who nearly put in 150 yards on the ground in their first meeting.
The Bengals injury report is certainly an interesting one for this week. DT Geno Atkins and TE Tyler Eifert (Non-Injury related) appeared on the report, though they only missed Tuesday’s practice before being full participants for the rest of the week, meaning they’re probably good to go. The same can be said for cornerback Darqueze Dennard (Knee) who was a full participant after missing Tuesday’s practice. Finally, fellow cornerback William Jackson III’s (Shoulder) season is officially over, as the team has already ruled him out after he missed practice all week.
The Bengals have already been assured the #1 overall pick in the draft this year, meaning they have nothing to lose by showing up and playing hard this weekend. They’ll look to end a three-game losing streak to the Browns by doing exactly that.