CLEVELAND (4-4) at CINCINNATI (5-3)
Sunday, 1 p.m. EST, CBS
OPENING LINE: Bengals by 2 1/2, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Browns 4-4; Bengals 4-4.
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SERIES RECORD: Bengals lead 51-44.
LAST MEETING: Browns beat Bengals 37-34 on Oct. 25, 2020, in Cincinnati.
LAST WEEK: Browns lost to Steelers 20-15; Bengals lost to Jets 34-31.
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (10), RUSH (1), PASS (26), SCORING (19)
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (3), RUSH (3), PASS (7), SCORING (13)
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (14), RUSH (23), PASS (11), SCORING (7)
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (17), RUSH (7), PASS (23), SCORING (6)
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Browns minus-3; Bengals minus-1.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: Blake Hance moves in at right tackle, replacing All-Pro Jack Conklin, who is out indefinitely after dislocating his left elbow. Hance has performed well while filling in over the past two seasons, but he’s more comfortable inside and not protecting one of quarterback Baker Mayfield’s flanks.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: Quarterback Joe Burrow is fifth in the NFL in passing with 2,269 and his 20 touchdowns rank third in the league. In last week’s losing effort, he still threw for 259 yards and three touchdowns. But his nine Interceptions are tied for second in the league. Burrow, a second-year QB, enters Sunday 97 passing yards shy of 5,000 for his career.
KEY MATCHUP: Browns’ beat-up offensive line vs. Cincinnati D-line. Because of former Browns defensive tackle Larry Ogunjobi and edge rusher Trey Hendickson (7 1/2 sacks), Cleveland’s offensive line will have its hands full. Conklin is out, tackle Jedrick Willis (ankle) and center JC Tretter (knee) are dealing with injuries.
KEY INJURIES: Browns CB Denzel Ward (hamstring) and WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin) should be back after missing last week. … WR Jarvis Landry (knee), S John Johnson III (neck), DEs Jadeveon Clowney (ankle, hip, knee) and Takk McKinley (groin) and DT Malik Jackson (ankle) all missed practice time this week. … Bengals G Jackson Carman, carted off the field with a back injury last Sunday, is “good to go,” coach Zac Taylor said. … RB Chris Evans (hamstring) is still day to day.
SERIES NOTES: The teams first played each other in 1970, a 14-10 Bengals win as former Cleveland coach Paul Brown, a Hall of Famer, got some revenge. … The Browns have won five of the last six in the series, including both matchups in 2020, but the Bengals have been victorious in nine of the last 15. … The last time the Bengals beat the Browns was Dec. 29, 2019, a 33-23 result in Cincinnati. … The Bengals previously won seven in a row in the series from 2014-17. … The largest margin of victory was 34 points (Browns 34–0, 1987) and Bengals 37–3, 2015). … When Cleveland won both games over Cincinnati in 2018, it was the Browns’ first season sweep over the Bengals since 2002. … The Bengals have 13 season sweeps, the Browns have 10.
STATS AND STUFF: Drama encircled the Browns this week after WR Odell Beckham Jr. essentially tried to force a trade. His father shared a social media video highlighting plays when Mayfield didn’t throw the ball to the three-time Pro Bowler. … Mayfield returned last week after missing one game with a shoulder injury and completed 20 of 31 passes for 225 yards. However, he was hurt by several drops, including two by the sure-handed Landry, who also had a costly fumble in the fourth quarter. … Mayfield is 5-1 in his career against Cincinnati with 17 touchdowns and a 111.4 rating. … Cleveland leads the league in rushing, but managed just 96 yards last week. … RB Nick Chubb returned last week after missing two games with a calf injury and had just 61 yards. He had 124 yards and two TDs in the first matchup with Cincinnati last season and has averaged 94 yards in five games against the Bengals. … Browns DE Myles Garrett leads the NFL with 10 1/2 sacks. He had two sacks in the last meeting between the teams. … Cincinnati has played more games against Cleveland (95) than any opponent except Pittsburgh (102). … Before losing to the previously 1-5 New York Jets last week, Cincinnati had back-to-back wins of more than 20 points, including a 41-17 rout of Lamar Jackson and the Ravens. … The Bengals have scored on 80% (18 of 20) of red-zone possessions, and the Browns 84.6% (22 of 26). … Browns offensive line coach Bill Callahan is the father of Bengals offensive coordinator Brian Callahan. … Bill Callahan was coach at Nebraska when Bengals coach Taylor played quarterback there. … The Bengals’ offense is second in the NFL in yards per pass play (9.15) and fifth in overall yards per play (6.2). … Burrow is second in the league with nine passing plays of at least 40 yards. Burrow is third in TD passes with 20. … Ja’Marr Chase, Burrow’s college teammate at LSU, is tops in the league with six receptions of at least 40 yards, third in yards receiving (786), and second with 14 receptions of at least 20 yards. … Linebacker Logan Wilson is tied for second with four interceptions.
FANTASY TIP: Bengals WR Tee Higgins had four catches for a season-high 97 yards in the loss to the Jets last week. The team’s leading receiver last season, he has been overshadowed by Chase, who had a down day. Chase had three receptions for just 32 yards and dropped a pass in the end zone.
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