Look, as Bengals fans we’re prone to irrantional over-confidence. We get it. But even I was surprised that when I asked Ben Solomon, a Browns fan with, I’m assured, all his sensory faculties and who wasn’t drunk when he wrote this, his prediction for the Bengals-Browns match up this weekend, he gave me five, that’s right, FIVE reasons why the Browns would dominate the Bengals….
1. Joe Haden
Yep, he’s back, and now the Browns secondary is better (and more drug free) than ever. I don’t think it’s a stretch to say that the Browns probably have the best secondary of any 0-5 team in the league, which is a point Bengals fans consistently overlook. The Browns add Haden to a team that intercepted the very turnover conscious Michael Vick 4 times. Sadly, the Browns fell to the Eagles in that contest, once again proving that when Michael Vick wins, the dog pound loses.
2. The Bengals running game is terrible
There has been a lot of talk about how the Bengals, after getting away from the run last week, are going to get back on track by pounding the rock against a cushy Browns front yielding 143 yards on the ground per game. As my British friend would say: Rubbish! I own the law firm one of my fantasy teams. That team is 2-3 (eerily similar to the Reds postseason record), and by far my worst.
I’ll allow the accomplished reader to draw their own conclusions from that stat, but allow me help navigate the waters: 3.3 yards a carry isn’t getting it done, and neither will another 75 yard performance against the Browns defense this week.
The Bengals’ offensive line must shoulder some of the responsibility as well. Surprisingly, the Browns sacked Dalton 6 times in week 2. Perhaps unsurprisingly, this is about the same number of times Keith Olbermann has been sacked for doing an equally horrible job.
3. Phil Dawson
Offensive MVP? He will win a game for the Browns this year. Just might be this one.
4. Quarterbacks & The Big12 Factor
Point #1: Andrew call me Andy Dalton threw more interceptions than Brandon Weedon did in the week two bout (2 vs. 0). That’s right, after throwing darts into the chests of opposing players in week 1, the 68 year-old rookie quarterback with a reconstructed elbow completed 70% of his passes for 300+ with zero interceptions against the Bengals defense. Sidebar: I thought the Bengals drafted a corner or something? And did I teleport to another dimension, or is Nate Clemens still playing football? Yikes.
Point #2: The Browns have two quarterbacks who played for teams now in the Big12 Conference. The Bengals have 1. Browns win 2-1. I think that speaks for itself.
If things continue on the same trajectory this season, the Browns may be able to complete their goal of rebuilding the depth chart at QB by drafting Landry Jones with the #1 overall pick. This will complete the unholy triumvirate of Big12 spread quarterbacks in the Browns’ offensive backfield, and effectively end all Quarterback controversies in Cleveland forever and ever.
5. What Bengals defense?
One reason I believed the Bengals to be a sleeper to win the division before the start of the season was what I saw out of their defense last year. That simply has not carried over to the fall of 2012 for a variety of reasons. Remember when the Bengals tackled Trent Richardson in Week 2? Yea, neither do I. Now, with the Browns starting to stretch the field vertically with receivers not named Greg “stone hands” Little, the Browns should be able to effectively get the ball to Richardson early and often, and then use play-action to give the developing Weedon a chance to make plays downfield. As long as Browns receivers do not continue to mistake the Stick-em for concrete mix, then the Browns should be able to make enough plays against the Bengals to win a close one.
Weep your tiger tears into the gaping pit of despair…Browns 27 – Bengals 24.