November 25, 2020

Week 7: Browns v. Bengals (Rematch) Preview

Time heals all wounds.

After the Pittsburgh Steelers put a pounding on the Cleveland Browns, that’s the best thing us Browns fans can hang our hat on. It’s on to the next week and the focus has shifted to our rematch with the Cincinnati Bengals in Paul Brown Stadium for “The Battle of Ohio.” Even though they were victorious against the Bengals in Week 2, this is still a win that won’t come easy for the Browns.

The Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a gut-wrenching loss to the Indianapolis Colts. The Bengals came out firing at all cylinders, scoring 21 points and were up 21-0 early in the second quarter. However, behind the arm of Colts QB Phillip Rivers, Indy struck back. After the Colts scored on a rushing TD and the Bengals responded with a field goal, Rivers picked apart the Bengals’ secondary and threw two touchdown passes. By the end of the 2nd quarter, the score was suddenly 24-21 and the Colts were right on the heels of the Bengals. Cincinnati could not find the end zone in the second half; their only points came from the leg of K Randy Bullock, who was good from 55 yards out in the 3rd quarter. After that, the Bengals were powerless. They gave up another Rivers passing touchdown and a field goal in the 4th and the final score was 31-27. Rookie QB Joe Burrow still had an impressive performance; he finished the game 25/39, threw for 313 yards but had an INT.

On the other hand, the Cleveland Browns did not have any control at any point in their last game against their rival, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers marched down the field on their first drive, but the Browns were able to stop them and force them to a field goal. Then, on the very next drive, QB Baker Mayfield threw a pick-six to S Minkah Fitzpatrick and all of a sudden, Cleveland was down 10-0 and the Browns never regained traction. The only highlight from the day was in the second quarter when Mayfield threw an easy TD pass to a wide-open WR Rashad “Hollywood” Higgins. At that point, it was already 24-7.

In the second half, it was clear that Baker’s nagging rib injury was still hurting the QB, so HC Kevin Stefanski pulled the plug on him. Baker finished with 119 yards, 1 TD, 2 INT’s and was 10/18. Second-string QB Case Keenum made his Browns debut but to no avail. He was 5/9 and had 46 passing yards. QB Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense walked all over Cleveland’s defense, and the final score was 38-7 and the Browns yet again are defeated in Pittsburgh for another year.

The Cincinnati Bengals could just be what the doctor ordered for the Cleveland Browns after such an embarrassing performance vs. the Steelers, but the Browns should not look past the frisky Bengals team. Bengals QB Joe Burrow has climbed up Pro Football Focus’ Quarterback Power Rankings this past week after his performance vs. the Colts, climbing seven spots to #15 in the league…

Here’s what PFF said about Burrow: “The Bengals’ future is looking great if Burrow survives his rookie season behind the offensive line because his play this season has been impressive outside of one disastrous game against Baltimore. Burrow has been under pressure on 36.6% of his dropbacks but has remained poised and efficient at quarterback. There are some negatives to his rookie performance so far and he has completed just two deep shots in six weeks, but overall the good far outweighs the bad and he climbs the rankings significantly despite us already holding a pretty favorable view of how he would perform out of the box.”

Yes, Burrow has been having a good rookie season so far, despite their 1-4-1 record. He’s 9th in the league in passing yards with 1,617, but he’s only had six touchdown passes, has thrown four picks this year so far and his 49.8 QBR ranks him at 26th in the league. There is so much room for improvement for Burrow, however, the offensive line has been inadequate at protecting their rookie QB, which is something the Browns D-Line has to expose. In Week 2, star DE Myles Garrett was able to register nine pressures, a sack, a forced fumble and also finished with a 90.5 pass-rush grade. Garrett can build on his great season that’s he built so far, and this game is one that he must be licking his chops at.

Browns QB Baker Mayfield has had his struggles at this point of the season and PFF dropped him seven spots and landing him at #25 on their QB Power Rankings.

Here’s what PFF said about Mayfield: “The Browns have been very good in four out of their six games this season, but Mayfield has not. Even in their four-game winning streak, Mayfield’s PFF passing grade was just 66.3, 22nd in the league over that time, lower than Mitchell Trubisky, who was benched for good off the back of that play. Mayfield has had some big moments, but he still abandons clean pockets too often and is making basic, rookie errors in reading coverages and decision making. That’s hugely concerning for a franchise that thought he was the answer after his rookie year.”

Former 1st round pick Baker Mayfield has not played up to expectations for the Browns. He’s thrown for 1095 yards this season, which is 26th in the league. He has also thrown six INT’s, but on a lighter note, he’s 13th in the league currently in TD passes with 10 and he is also 17th in the league with his 68.1 QBR. For the past couple of weeks now, it’s been known throughout Cleveland that he has sore ribs that he obtained in the Colts game and it’s been speculated that that’s the reason for his bad play, but Baker’s toughness has always been a positive about him. His recent benching vs. the Steelers was due to his sore ribs and Stefanski wanted to make sure his starting QB would not get punished anymore against the aggressive Pittsburgh defense and have him throughout the season.

The Browns offense can still leave a mark on the weak Bengals defense, even though they have been dinged up. The offense has been missing an integral part in their attack, which is RB Nick Chubb, who had 124 yards and two touchdowns in the Week 2 game vs. the Bengals. Thankfully, the running back depth has been dependable for Cleveland with Kareem Hunt, D’Ernest Johnson and Dontrell Hilliard. Also, G Wyatt Teller is out with a calf injury, who before his injury vs. the Colts was PFF’s highest-ranked guard in the NFL. And now, TE Austin Hooper has been ruled out due to appendicitis. Here’s to hoping that the Browns offense can still show up and show out against Cincy.

The Browns have been victorious vs. the Bengals earlier this season already, but Joe Burrow and the Bengals will not go down without a fight. Cleveland needs to get back on track and a big win against their in-state, divisional foe can bring back the pep in their step. Tune in this Sunday @ 1 p.m. to watch your Cleveland Browns take on the Cincinnati Bengals and expect a great game!

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