The Cleveland Browns come back home to First Energy Stadium to host the division rival Cincinnati Bengals this Sunday. Over recent years, the Bengals have not been an easy task for the Browns. Here is what the Bengals bring to the table this weekend.
Third year rising star, “Red Rocket” Andy Dalton is the Bengals field general. So far this season, Dalton has thrown for almost 800 yards and five touchdowns. What’s impressive about Dalton is his ability to keep the chains moving. The Bengals are converting 46% of third down conversion opportunities. Part of that success is because Dalton uses everyone. He has used seven receivers in three games. Dalton’s QB rating is a high 93.2, but has thrown three interceptions on the year.
It is safe to say that Cincinnati has one of the best wide receivers in the league in AJ Green. The third year star is on pace for 100 receptions, 1,300 yards, and 16 touchdowns. Much like the Browns’ Josh Gordon, Green uses his body well and averages over 13 yards a reception. As always, Joe Haden will have his hands full.
The weapons don’t stop at Green. The Bengals have a slew of others like tight ends, Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert. When Eifert catches the ball, it’s for big chunks too. Eifert is also averaging 13 yards a reception. Cincinnati has up-and-coming young talent with Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones. Sanu is somewhat of a possession receiver and is the starter on the other side of Green.
When the Bengals signed Benjarvus Green Ellis from the New England Patriots two years ago, they wanted a three down durable running back. In 15 games last season, Green-Ellis eclipsed the 1,000 yard mark for the second time in his career. This season has started rough for the 28-year old. Green-Ellis is averaging just 2.8 yards/carry. The Bengals look to be going to running back by committee with Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard.
In the 4-3 scheme coordinated by Mike Zimmer, the defense just keeps getting better and better. After a sketchy past, second year man, Vontaze Burfict is a tackling machine and Rey Maualuga seems to have improved greatly from his first couple of seasons. The Bengals also have “Browns Killer” James Harrison. A beast on the d-line is Domata Peko that has stuffed the middle eight years in Cincinnati. Geno Atkins is off to a slow start with only one tackle and one sack on the season, but can still be deadly. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson bring the pressure from the edges.
Perhaps, Cincinnati’s greatest strength is their secondary though. Just two spots behind the Browns, they allow 231 passing yards per game. Veteran corner, Leon Hall has 23 interceptions in his seven-year career, all with the Bengals. Hall can cover with the best of them. Former Cowboy, Terrence Newman is his running mate on the other side. At 35 years old, Newman starts because their former first round pick, Dre Kirkpatrick has been a bust so far. The always troubled Adam Jones was arrested again this week.
Former Buckeye, Mike Nugent is still kicking for the Bengals. He has a long this season of 41 yards, but has missed both an extra point and a field goal. Punter, Kevin Huber is in his fifth straight year with the Bengals. He is averaging 46.4 yards per punt. With Jones most likely missing this game due to his screw up, expect Brandon Tate to return both punts and kickoffs. In five kickoff returns, Tate has brought four returns past the 20 yard line.
Ryan Ruiz is the Cleveland Browns Beat Writer for The Inscriber: Digital Magazine. You can follow him on Facebook: Ryan (BrownsWriter) Ruiz and Twitter @ryanpruiz24. Ryan is also a Browns correspondent for The Sportsfix. Tune in every Friday at noon on www.thesportsfix.net.