Last week was not a good one for the Bengals, losing to the Dolphins at home, but this week they will look to get back on track in Cleveland vs a Browns team that hasn’t had a good week yet in 2012.
Cleveland is the only team in the NFL that hasn’t won a game, starting the season 0-5, and they have lost their last 11 games going back to last season, tying an all-time franchise record.
If the Browns are going to break into the win column Sunday, they may need big performances from rookies Brandon Weeden and Trent Richardson. Weeden, who threw for a season-best 322 yards and two TDs last month at Cincinnati, is tied for the most INTs in the NFL with nine but has shown better poise in the pocket.
“I think he made progress (last Sunday),” coach Pat Shurmur told the Browns’ official website. “…. There was some general efficiency there and there were a couple bad plays that he’d love to have back. How he responds to all that, that’s this week’s challenge as we get ready to play the Bengals.”
Cincinnati goes for the season sweep and a fifth consecutive victory over the host Browns, and more importantly will look to rebound off the loss to Miami.
After averaging 33.0 points and 411.7 yards during a three-game winning streak, the Bengals (3-2) had a season-low 298 yards and three turnovers in last Sunday’s 17-13 home loss.
“The offense didn’t play well across the board,” said Andy Dalton, who threw for 234 yards and a touchdown with two interceptions. “It’s tough sitting here where we are. We had our chances, but we couldn’t get it done.”
Dalton was 24 of 31 for 318 yards with three TDs in a 34-27 win over Cleveland in Week 2.
One big return for Cleveland will be CB Joe Haden, who was suspended for four games, and will be back just in time to try and cover A.J. Green.
“Perfect timing,” he said. “At least when I come back, I can try to make a statement going against somebody in the division like him. I feel like once I come back and just do my thing, then I’ll just be back.”
Cincinnati has won five of seven in Cleveland, including a 27-17 victory Sept. 11, 2011, that spoiled Shurmur’s debut as Browns coach.
It will be much of the same this week, as the Bengals rebound with defense, and a good effort from both Dalton and Green to get their fourth win.
Cincinnati 23 Cleveland 17