National Football League News
Can Bengals Keep Good Times Rolling Vs. Browns?
Sep 14, 2007, 18:10 GMT
- As an early-season candidate to represent the AFC in this year's Super Bowl, the Cincinnati Bengals started their quest for glory on the right foot. Now they will have the pleasure of paying a visit to the Cleveland Browns this Sunday in Week 2 of the NFL season.
The Bengals grinded out a 27-20 win over the Baltimore Ravens on Monday night, thanks to a big play on defense and precise passing from quarterback Carson Palmer. Palmer, who is entering his second season since a devastating knee injury, picked apart Baltimore's defense for 194 yards, two touchdowns and no interceptions. He hooked up with wideouts Chad Johnson and T.J. Houshmandzadeh on scoring strikes, with Houshmandzedah's touchdown putting the Bengals on top for good midway through the fourth quarter.
Palmer and his receivers are already in midseason form, especially the flamboyant Johnson, who likes to talk a lot before the game. He backed up his words with five catches for 95 yards and a touchdown and was on top of his touchdown celebrations as well, donning an oversized blazer with his own Hall of Fame inception date inscribed on the back following his first-quarter score.
Johnson is looking too far ahead with that prediction, but does give defensive backs nightmares with his speed and excellent routes. The seventh-year pro has led the AFC in receiving yards the past four years and owns 11 100-yard games since 2004. Johnson also needs just 82 receiving yards to pass Isaac Curtis (7,101 yards) and become the Bengals' all-time leader in that category.
Cleveland must find a way to shut down Cincinnati's passing attack after Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger threw for four touchdowns in last week's 34-7 shellacking of the Browns. Head coach Romeo Crennel is on the hot seat already this season, and made a move this week to try and solidify his starting quarterback dilemma.
The Browns shipped Week 1 starter Charlie Frye to Seattle, giving the reigns to then-backup Derek Anderson. Frye was just 4-of-10 passing for 34 yards and an interception before Anderson took over and completed 13 of his 28 attempts for 184 yards with a touchdown and an interception. With the trade, rookie signal-caller Brady Quinn is now one big hit away from becoming the No. 1 guy.
Cleveland couldn't run the ball either in its season opener, as new running back Jamal Lewis collected 35 yards on 11 carries. The Bengals had trouble on the ground last Sunday as well, with Rudi Johnson rushing for 50 yards on 18 touches.
Cincinnati leads the all-time series with Cleveland, 34-33, breaking a deadlock in the series with a 30-0 thrashing of the Browns on the road in Week 12 of last season. The Bengals, who were also 34-17 home winners over the Browns in Week 2 of '06, have now won five straight in the series. Cleveland's last win in the series was a 34-17 triumph at home in 2004.
Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis is 6-2 against the Browns in his career, including 3-1 in games held in Cleveland. The Browns' Crennel is 0-4 against both Lewis and the Bengals as a head coach.
WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
Cincinnati has four big weapons on offense in Palmer, Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson and Houshmandzadeh. There would be five, but wideout Chris Henry is suspended for the season's first eight games. Expect the Bengals to attack Cleveland through the air on Sunday, with Palmer having a typical outing versus the inferior Browns. Palmer, who was sacked just once in Week 1, is 5-1 lifetime against Cleveland with 13 touchdown passes. In the team's last meeting of the 2006 season, Palmer threw for 275 yards with three touchdown passes for a 120.7 QB rating.
Rudi Johnson has also enjoyed success against the Browns, rushing for at least 125 yards in four of the last five encounters with Cincinnati's AFC North rivals. He was held to 50 yards on 18 carries with a fumble against Baltimore, however. But the Browns could only wish they had that type of defense and will give up even more ground yardage to the compact running back, especially with Bengals Pro Bowl right tackle Willie Anderson on the mend. Anderson missed the preseason with a right foot condition and played sparingly against Baltimore. He should be in better health for this week's matchup. Left tackle Levi Jones was active for Monday's game but didn't play. He has been practicing and is expected to start against Cleveland.
The Browns could neither stop the run (206 yards) or the pass (159 yards, 4 touchdowns) against the Steelers last week. They sacked Roethlisberger just once and watched halfback Willie Parker rack up 109 yards on 27 carries. Cleveland's defense is led by second-year linebacker Kamerion Wimbley, who finished with just two tackles on Sunday. Defensive end Orpheus Roye and linebacker Andra Davis both recorded a team-high six stops. The pressure must be put on Palmer this week, otherwise Crennel will be counting down the days of his departure.
On an injury note, outside linebacker Willie McGinest will miss a second straight game as he recovers from back surgery and nickelback Daven Holly is iffy for Sunday's game with a concussion. Defensive end Antwan Peek suffered a sprained foot against the Steelers but expects to be this week.
WHEN THE BROWNS HAVE THE BALL
It seems as if the Browns are already playing musical quarterbacks this season, as they shipped Frye to the Seahawks to open the door for Anderson. Frye did practically nothing in his short time on Sunday as a starter and was immediately replaced by Anderson. The latest move means that Quinn is the new backup and will most likely take over as the starter by November, or sooner if Anderson fails in his opportunity. Anderson would perform a lot better if the offensive line played better and Jamal Lewis was able to find a bit of daylight.
Wide receiver Braylon Edwards and tight end Kellen Winslow were not much of a factor against Pittsburgh, even though Winslow led the squad with 83 yards on four receptions. The Browns compiled 221 yards and just seven points on offense and turned the ball over five times.
That's not a good sign for Cleveland, as the Bengals forced six turnovers against the Ravens. Defensive end Robert Geathers had an interception, a sack, one forced fumble, a fumble recovery and two passes defensed in Monday's win. In order for the Browns to avoid losing their sixth consecutive regular-season game, they must win the turnover battle and get Jamal Lewis more involved in the offense.
Chad Johnson, Rudi Johnson, Palmer and Houshmandzadeh are the top fantasy players on Cincinnati's roster. Houshmandzadeh had a team-high nine receptions for 50 yards and a touchdown on Monday. Both Palmer and Chad Johnson did their jobs, but Rudi Johnson has room to improve. He is still one of the top backs in fantasy, but 50 yards on 18 carries with a fumble certainly doesn't cut it. The Browns were smoked by Pittsburgh's offense and will be in for a treat with Cincinnati, which has a better offense than the Steelers.
As for Cleveland's fantasy studs, wideout Edwards, tight end Winslow and running back Lewis are all impact fantasy players. Now Frye is in Seattle, quarterback Anderson has a chance to make some fantasy owners proud. Winslow was the best of the bunch in last week's loss to Pittsburgh, with 83 yards on four catches.
The Bengals slipped past Baltimore's heralded defense on Monday night with big plays from Chad Johnson and Palmer. Despite Johnson's slow second half, he was still able to scorch Ed Reed and the Ravens secondary for 95 yards and a touchdown on five receptions. You can guarantee 'Ocho Cinco' will reach the end zone again on Sunday versus a Browns squad that gave up almost 400 yards of offense in Week 1. Cincinnati, which scored a defensive touchdown on Monday, will have a much easier time coming out as the victor if Rudi Johnson can improve on his mediocre performance against the Ravens. The only way Cleveland has a chance to win is if one of the Bengals' big three goes down or if Anderson plays out of character and scorches a tough Cincy defense through the air.
Sports Network Predicted Outcome: Bengals 28, Browns 13
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