Tale Of The Tape: Cleveland Browns At Cincinnati Bengals
- QuarterbackThe Cleveland Browns have gotten a lift from a couple of backup quarterbacks this season in Brian Hoyer and Jason Campbell. That’s quite unusual, and they will be happy to have Campbell back in the lineup against the Bengals. Campbell (bruised ribs) has completed 61.3 percent of his passes and has thrown five TDs without an interception.The Bengals are in first place in the AFC South, but it has been a frustrating season for Andy Dalton who struggles to play consistently. Dalton is capable of making the big throw down the field to A.J. Green, but he is just as capable of throwing the awful interception that gives his team life. Dalton needs to improve over the final seven games if the Bengals are going to have a chance in the AFC.
- OffenseFew teams get less from the running game than the Browns, and that’s not a good thing for a team that is trying to establish a balanced offense. There’s nothing wrong with Josh Gordon. The speedy wideout runs precise patterns and has excellent acceleration that allows him to blow past defensive backs. Tight end Jordan Cameron is an outstanding red zone target who has caught six TD passes.Giovanni Bernard has given the Bengals a degree of explosiveness to their ground game, but he still needs to do a better job of waiting for his blocks to develop before hitting the holes. BenJarvus Green-Ellis can get the tough yards between the tackles. Wide receiver A.J. Green is one of the most dangerous receivers in the AFC and he proved that by catching the tying TD pass vs. the Ravens in Week 10.
- DefenseThe Browns have been hard working and consistent on the defensive side of the ball as they rank fifth overall in yards allowed. Give credit to middle linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who leads the team with 79 tackles and also has three passes defensed. Strong safety T.J. Ward has been quite consistent in registering 64 tackles, seven passes defended and two interceptions.The Bengals suffered a huge blow when they lost defensive tackle Geno Atkins (knee) for the season. Statistically, the Bengals rank fourth in overall defense, but that ranking is in jeopardy as a result of the Atkins loss. Linebacker Vontaze Burfict is mean and nasty, and he leads the team with 102 tackles. Defensive end Carlos Dunlap leads the team with 6.0 sacks.
- Special TeamsThe Browns have been consistent in their punt and kickoff coverage and speedy Travis Benjamin gives them a threat every time he returns a kick. He has already returned one punt for a score. Billy Cundiff has made 13-of-15 FG attempts this year, but it’s hard to trust him in clutch situations.The Bengals have been solid in their punt and kickoff coverage and they do a good job of staying in their lanes and preventing big plays. Brandon Tate is capable of a big kickoff return, while Adam Jones can help out on punt returns. Mike Nugent (13-of-17) is just an ordinary placekicker.
The Bengals have lost two consecutive overtime games and some of that is on head coach Marvin Lewis, who often makes shaky strategic decisions. After losing at Cleveland early in the year, the Bengals must find a way to defeat their in-state and divisional rivals. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor