Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals

The promising Cleveland Browns travel four hours straight down I-71 to take on AFC North rivals Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, November 25 at 1:00 pm at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH, broadcasted on CBS, a divisional Buckeye matchup that will repeat again during Week 16 in Cleveland.

The 3-6-1 Cleveland Browns:

Well rested after a Week 11 bye and recharged after a 28-16 victory over the Atlanta Falcons in Week 10, the 3-6-1 Cleveland Browns are more dangerous than their losing record might indicate.

With an impressive display of offense in the two games they’ve played since firing their head coach Hue Jackson and offensive coordinator Todd Haley right after a Week 8 loss to the Steelers, the Browns’ scoring charge is led by three-time rookie-of-the-week quarterback Baker Mayfield.

The Browns are 0-4 on the road and just 1-1-1 in their division, but playing against the team who immediately hired their fired head coach Jackson should add enough fuel to the fire to make this one close.

The 5-5 Cincinnati Bengals:

Coming off a two-game losing skid after their Week 9 bye, the 5-5 Cincinnati Bengals started the 2018 season with a strong 4-1 record, but have lost 4-out-of-the-last-5 and have left their fans wondering why their Bengals are losing steam once again.

Veteran quarterback Andy Dalton is having an okay season, having completed 62.1 percent of his passes for 2,466 yards (ranked 17th) and 20 touchdowns but with 10 interceptions.

This season the Bengals are 3-2 at home and 1-2 against divisional rivals, but they’re counting on inside knowledge from former Browns’ head coach Hue Jackson, whom they hired a few moments after he’d been fired by Cleveland after compiling a record of 3-36-1.

What’s at stake:

These two teams have met 89 times, with Cincinnati winning 50 games and Cleveland winning 39 games. The Bengals have won the last seven meetings in a row.

If the Browns win this matchup, they’ll move to 4-6-1 and more importantly will have won two games in a row for the first time in years, beginning their steep climb towards the Steelers atop the AFC North.

But if the Bengals come out on top, they’ll be back to sporting a winning record at 6-5 and will put pressure on the Baltimore Ravens, the team they’re tied for second place with in the AFC North, who play the hapless Oakland Raiders in Week 12.

Questions to answer…

Who’s favored to win this Week 12 Browns-Bengals matchup?

Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?

Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?

We’re going to compare the Browns and the Bengals and attempt to answer those questions and more.

The 2018 Browns offense just getting started

Under the game planning leadership of newly appointed offensive coordinator (and most recently Browns’ running backs & associate head coach) Freddie Kitchens, the Browns have scored five touchdowns in their last two games and beat the favored Falcons.

Mayfield had a quarterback rating of 151.2 for that game, throwing 17-for-20 for 216 yards and 3 touchdowns on top of running 6 times for another 20 yards of offense.

The Browns receiving corps has averaged 222.2 yards per game (ranked 24th) and is led by veteran slot receiver Jarvis Landry and includes deep threats rookie Antonio Callaway and third-year player Rashard ‘Hollywood’ Higgins, as well as pass-catching tight ends David Njoku and Darren Fells.

Browns tough on the ground

Here’s where the Browns get physical – their rushing attack is ranked 5th in the league after running the ball an average of 133.2 yards per game.

2x Pepsi NFL Rookie of the Week running back Nick Chubb just set a Browns franchise record by running for a 92-yard touchdown against the Falcons in Week 10, totaling 579 yards and 5 touchdowns on the ground and 48 yards and a touchdown through the air.

With the precision that dual threat running back Duke Johnson runs his pass routes, he could be a receiver, and his numbers concur: 26 rushes for 130 yards while catching 33-for-42 for 312 yards and 3 touchdowns.

Cleveland offensive Injuries

There are no Browns injuries listed for Week 12 at this point.

The 2018 Bengals offense

Despite averaging a twelfth best 25.6 points per game, the Bengals offense is ranked 26th overall, probably because they only manage to gain a total of 329.3 yards per game.

In their close loss to the Ravens, quarterback Dalton was without his main target, A.J. Green (toe), and Green is currently listed as questionable for Week 12.

Third-year receiver Tyler Boyd and last year’s first round draft pick John Ross will have to step up instead and contribute to a passing offense ranked 20th after averaging 239.3 yards per game.

Bengals run game ineffective

Cincinnati’s ground attack only produces 90.0 yards per game, and only four teams run for less.

In the eight games he’s played, second-year running back Joe Mixon has averaged 4.6 yards per carry for a total of 584 yards and 5 touchdowns while catching 24 balls for 177 yards and another touchdown.

Veteran back Giovani Bernard has rushed 38 times for 166 yards and 3 touchdowns while catching 20 passes for 128 yards.

Cincinnati offensive Injuries

Wide receivers A.J. Green (toe) and Josh Malone (hamstring) are both listed as questionable for Week 12.

Green did not play in Week 11 against the Ravens.

Browns Defense ranks 31st in the league

The Browns defense is ranked low for allowing opponents to score 26.3 points and gain a total of 419.7 yards per game, with a passing defense ranked 30th and a rushing defense ranked 28th.

Cleveland is good at takeaways – they’ve intercepted 13 passes (ranked 3rd most) and have forced 15 fumbles (4th most) while recovering 12 fumbles (1st) and sacking 24 quarterbacks (T-21st).

Browns Defensive Players to watch:

Outside linebacker Jamie Collins has had 71 combined tackles (T-23rd most in the NFL) and has 2.0 sacks, 3 quarterback hits, and interception, 3 passes defended, a fumble recovery and a forced fumble.

Second year defensive end Myles Garrett (an All-Rookie last season) has 9.0 sacks, (T-9th most) and has 28 combined tackles (7 for loss), 19 quarterback hits, 3 passes defended and 3 forced fumbles.

Rookie-of-the-week award winning cornerback Denzel Ward has 3 interceptions (T-6th most) and has 42 combined tackles (3 for loss), 2 fumble recoveries and a forced fumble.

Bengals Defense is 32nd overall

Cincinnati allows their opponents to rack up 31.2 points and 449.4 total yards of offense per game, and their passing defense is ranked 31st while their rushing defense is 32nd overall.

Despite their poor overall ranking, Cincinnati’s defense has intercepted 11 balls (T-4th most) but have only sacked opposing quarterbacks 23 times (T-23rd most).

Bengals Defensive Players to watch:

Free safety Jessie Bates has 80 combined tackles (T-11th most in the NFL) and he has 3 interceptions, one of those for a touchdown, plus four passes defended.

Defensive end Carlos Dunlop has 7.0 sacks and defensive tackle Geno Atkins has 6.0 sacks.

Strong safety Shawn Williams has 4 interceptions and free safety Jessie Bates has 3.

Defensive tackle Adolphus Washington (knee), outside linebacker Nick Vigil (knee – MCL) and middle linebacker Preston Brown (knee) are listed as questionable for Week 12.

Special Teams Stats Comparison

Punters:

Cleveland’s punter, Britton Colquitt is in his third year and has punted 64 times (most in the league) for a net average of 38.0 yards per punt, ranked 30th in the league.

Cincinnati’s punter, Kevin Huber, has been in the league and with the Bengals since 2009.

So far, he’s punted 43 times for a net average of 38.6 yards per punt, tied for 25th in the league.

Placekickers:

Cleveland’s front office hired rookie placekicker, Greg Joseph, after the Browns initial kicker missed critical field goals and extra points in the first two games.

So far, he’s 11-for-13, his longest was a 51-yarder. He has missed two extra point attempts (10/12).

Cincinnati’s journeyman placekicker, Randy Bullock, is now playing for his fifth new team, sixth if you count his first brief stint with the Bengals in 2016.

Bullock is 9-for-12, his longest a 51-yarder. He has missed one extra point attempt (31/32).

Punt Returners:

Cleveland’s punt returner, safety Jabrill Peppers, is ranked 26th in the league.

He’s returned 19 kicks for 179 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.4 yards per return, his longest being 33 yards.

Cincinnati’s punt returner, wide receiver Alex Erickson, is ranked 10th in the league in return average.

He’s returned 10 punts for 121 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 12.1 yards per return, his longest for 38 yards.

Browns–Bengals prediction and odds

The oddsmakers have the Bengals favored over the Browns by 3 with an over/under of 47.5.

CBSSports.com has this final score prediction:

John Breech takes the under and predicts it Bengals 23, Browns 20

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