The (5-7) Cleveland Browns are preparing for a crucial divisional showdown on the road against the (8-4) Cincinnati Bengals this week.
The Browns are coming off a victory in Houston and have had Joe Burrow‘s number since he joined the NFL.
Will the surprise dominance continue this Sunday?
Let’s take a look at what our writers think about this matchup.
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
All good things must come to an end, and I think this adage rings true this weekend in the second round of the 2022 edition of the Battle of Ohio.
The Cincinnati Bengals have not beaten the Cleveland Browns since December 2019, and everyone knows it.
It does not matter that the Bengals are the defending AFC Champions or that they own the Kansas City Chiefs.
As soon as the Week 13 win over the Chiefs was recorded, the Bengals went to work on how to beat the Browns, once and for all.
The Bengals are tired of living with the proverbial monkey on their backs of not being able to beat their interstate and divisional counterparts.
Joe Burrow was watching Browns’ game tape on Monday, on the team’s day off, and other teammates were working out and getting ready as if it was a regular workday.
The Browns always save their best football for the Bengals, but I think Week 14 in 2022 is when Burrow and the Bengals turn it up a notch.
It is a home game, and the Bengals will get the win with the magic of Burrow and Ja’Marr Chase, whose hip injury kept him out of the Halloween game between these two teams.
While it will be a close and tightly contested game, the Bengals will come out on top and breathe a sigh of relief that the winless streak is over.
My Prediction: Bengals 31 – Browns 27
Writer: Pat Opperman
Jacoby Brissett kind of stunk in his Cleveland Browns debut and blamed it on nerves and excitement.
Then he became a top-10 quarterback before handing the reins to Deshaun Watson.
Watson comes off his own Browns debut, one that appeared affected by nerves and excitement.
There was probably some rust and stiffness related to 700 days between moving at game speed, too.
And even with a conservative game plan, Watson seemed way too tentative, constantly bouncing passes short.
But Watson and Stefanski put that offensive game in the trash bin for Week 14.
Cincinnati is not the Texans, and competing with Joe Burrow will require some deep passes.
Nobody on the Browns seems concerned by Watson’s mediocre effort last week, and for a good reason.
He survived the hits, scrambled out of the pocket, and even ad-libbed a bit, and now it’s time to throw the ball.
Watson will cut the ball loose, and he will also find his short and medium receivers between a healthy dose of Nick Chubb.
There will be some hiccups, but the revitalized Browns defense and special teams help Watson beat Cincy…as usual.
My Prediction: Browns 31- Bengals 23
Writer: Ben Donahue
After a win last week against the hapless Houston Texans, the Cleveland Browns are 5-7 and face cross-state rival Cincinnati on Sunday.
In Week 8, Cleveland snapped its four-game losing streak by spanking the Bengals, 32-13.
That game was played at FirstEnergy Stadium.
Will they achieve the same results in Cincinnati?
Unfortunately, this doesn’t appear to be the same Bengals team from a few weeks ago.
Since losing to the Browns, Cincy has won four straight including a huge 27-24 win last week over Patrick Mahomes and Kansas City.
Joe Burrow’s quarterback rating was over 126 and he looked sharp in connecting with returning receiver Ja’Marr Chase.
The Browns have allowed a 102.4 catch rate to opposing receivers this year.
That doesn’t bode well for the Cleveland secondary.
It looks like running back Joe Mixon will return from concussion protocol.
Even if he doesn’t play much, Samaje Perine has done well in his absence, rushing for over 100 yards against the Chiefs.
Meanwhile, Cleveland has allowed over five yards per carry to running backs in 2022.
It will help if quarterback Deshaun Watson shakes off the rust from his awful 131-yard passing day.
He hadn’t played in two years, but this was a bad Houston team and Watson played down to their level.
The Bengals’ defense did a bang-up job against Mahomes, keeping him nearly 100 yards under his average passing yards per game.
On Halloween, the secret sauce for the Browns was a healthy dose of Nick Chubb and a plethora of sacks on Burrow.
If Burrow can get rid of the ball quicker (especially with three good receivers), that may be tough to replicate.
Cleveland has defeated their rival five straight times going back to 2020.
I think the streak ends on Sunday.
My prediction: Bengals 31 – Browns 24
Writer: Rocco Nuosci
How the Browns have been so dominant against the Bengals in recent history remains a head-scratcher.
Eight of the last night matchups between the two sides have gone to Cleveland.
The Browns have been Joe Burrow’s kryptonite of sorts.
He’s winless against the Browns in four starts.
Cleveland’s defense has intercepted him four times, more than any other team but Pittsburgh.
However, Sunday isn’t really about the defense, is it?
It’s more about how much rust the $230-million man, Deshaun Watson, can shed before kickoff.
His performance against the Texans left much to be desired, with Cleveland winning that game despite Watson rather than because of him.
That won’t cut it against a piping hot Bengals team who has won their last four games, including a win last week against the Kansas City Chiefs.
Cleveland’s had Cincy’s number of late, but will that be enough Sunday?
My Prediction: Bengals 27 – Browns 20