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3 Reasons Why the Browns Have a Chance Against Cincinnati
We Know the Negatives
There is no debate that the Browns deserve to be huge underdogs in tonight's game against the Cincinnati Bengals. The 2-6 Browns are struggling in nearly all phases of the game. Their 32nd ranked rush defense will have trouble against Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard. Five starters including AJ Green's nemesis, Joe Haden, are out with injuries. In addition, they're starting a young and unproven backup quarterback against one of the hottest teams in football.
All of this said, the NFL is full of games every year in which the underdog shocks their superior opponent. Here are three reasons why that might happen tonight.
Andy Dalton's primetime history is well-documented. In addition, the Cleveland Browns have historically been a team he has struggled against. In primetime, he is 3-7 with 11 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions. In last year's Thursday night matchup against Cleveland, he was 10 of 33 for 86 yards, 0 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His passer rating was a career-low 2.0 in a rating system that allows up to a 158.3 mark.
Career-wise against Cleveland, Dalton has a 73.2 quarterback rating with also 11 touchdowns vs. 11 interceptions. His career stats against all teams is 87.4 rating with a 114/70 TD/INT ratio.
Browns fans are hoping history is on their side tonight.
2) The Bengals Defense
Over the last three games, the Browns have had to face top defenses against Denver, St. Louis, and Arizona. In yards per game given up, they are ranked 1st, 4th, and 6th respectively.
Cincinnati brings the 22nd ranked defense against Cleveland in yards per game. That's 18th against the rush and 23rd vs. the pass. Establishing a ground attack can go a long way to protecting a young and inexperienced Johnny Manziel.
3) The Johnny Factor
This is the unknown. Yes it could be an unmitigated disaster. But what happens if it's not? In one game this year (yes against an inferior Titans team), Johnny brought a big-play ability to the stage and proved he could win a game in the NFL. The Bengals have been forced to prepare for both Johnny Manziel and Josh McCown because the Browns did not announce the starter until yesterday. In addition, there is not much film on Manziel and people on the outside have no idea what kind of developmental steps he has taken since the week 2 victory against Tennessee. Perhaps a big play or two could open up the underneath passing game and maybe even a rushing attack.
Everything on paper says the Browns should lose miserably in this game. Call me bias, call me foolish, but for some reason my gut is telling me something different. Last week I predicted a 31-17 loss to Arizona. The actual score was 34-20. Because of the reasons above, I am picking the Browns to shock the world and upset the undefeated Bengals.
Prediction: Browns 24-21