Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals: 5 Needs for a Browns Victory
The Cleveland Browns play the Cincinnati Bengals this weekend in another episode of the "Battle of Ohio".
Colt McCoy, rookie quarterback of the Browns, will be starting against the Bengals, after being side-lined four weeks due to a high ankle sprain, an injury he acquired during the loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars.
The Browns, after a dismal loss to the Buffalo Bills, need a victory over a struggling Bengals team before returning home to face the Baltimore Ravens, and their final game, the Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Bengals have a record of 2 wins and 11 losses, and suffered a loss to the Browns in their first meeting this year by a score of Browns 23, Bengals 20.
The Browns performance against the Bengals must improve greatly over their performance against the Bills, if not, the Browns will come home to Cleveland at 5 wins and 9 losses.
Contain Carson Palmer:
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In the first meeting this year, Carson Palmer completed 25 passes for 371 yds on his way to a 121.4 quarterback rating. He threw for two touchdowns and averaged 10.3 yds per pass. The Bengals are rated 15th in passing yds, averaging just under 230 yds per game.
Both wide receivers for the Bengals are on Cincinnati's' injury list, and their game status is undetermined. Chad Ochocinco did not practice due to an ankle injury, while Terrell Owens, suffering from a knee injury, had limited practice.
The Browns defense must keep constant pressure on Palmer. Although Palmer has thrown for 21 touchdowns this year, he also has 18 interceptions to his credit. The Browns cannot allow Palmer to stand in the pocket, carefully picking his targets, they must hurry him and force him out of the pocket, making him throw on the run.
Beware of Cedric Benson:
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With 245 carries for 856 yards and an average of 3.5 yards per carry, Cedric Bensons' stats may not be impressive, yet he can still be a threat.
Benson is capable of having an impact on the outcome versus the Bengals. Benson has had two 100 yard rushing performances this year, one against Tampa Bay, the other against Buffalo.
Given the performance of Fred Jackson, running back for Buffalo, with 29 carries for 112 yards against the Browns last week, one can expect the Bengals to test Clevelands' run defense.
The Browns defense cannot afford to put on another display of missed tackles, that have been noticeable especially in the latter part of the season.
Protect Colt McCoy:
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The Bengals are aware that Peyton Hillis is the majority of the Browns offense. They are also aware that Colt McCoy is coming off an ankle injury, and is a rookie quarterback.
The Bengals will attempt to contain Hillis, and apply pressure on McCoy, limiting his time in the pocket, and forcing him to scramble outside the pocket.
McCoy has proven to be effective on the run, along with his ability run for needed yardage when given the opportunity.
Expect the Bengals to attempt to apply as much pressure on McCoy as possible, forcing him to beat them in the air, and testing his mobility.
Due to McCoy returning from an ankle injury, and against a team that will attempt to test how well his ankle is healed, the offensive must give that extra effort to protect McCoy.
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In the fourth game of this season, against the Bengals, Peyton Hillis gained 102 yds on 27 carries, and had one rushing touchdown.
The Bengals are aware of Hillis' importance to the Browns offense. They also know of his problem with holding onto the ball.
The Browns must give the Bengals a healthy dose of Hillis, both running the ball and on passing plays.
In the last meeting between these teams, Hillis had 2 receptions. Hillis is a good receiver and allows McCoy one more target whether setting in the pocket, or being forced to scramble.
Hillis has given up 8 fumbles this season, many caused by defenders gang tackling, and stripping the ball. The Bengals will attempt to do the same. Needless to say, Hillis must hang onto the ball.
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The offensive play-calling has been questionable in the last few games. There are times when being conservative in your game-plan can be beneficial, however the inability to make game-time adjustments is crucial.
Over the last few games the Browns offense has been playing what seems to be a "playing not to lose" game-plan.
This conservative style of play has shown to be ineffective in a number of games, and yet there were no adjustments made.
Making adjustments during a game is crucial to a successful outcome, Whether it is Eric Mangini, or Brian Daboll who are calling the shots, they are failing to make adjustments.
The lack of players, due to injury, or the opponent you are facing will have a great deal to do with your game-plan.
Mangini and Daboll must show they can be inventive, decisive, and have the ability to change course if necessary.
They must throw everything "but the kitchen sink" at Cincinnati, Baltimore and Pittsburgh.