The Browns lost to the Bengals in the first week of the season, thanks to a quick-snap play in which the Bengals offense caught the Browns defense napping. The Browns even held a 17-13 lead going into the fourth quarter, only to squander it for a 27-17 loss.
Since that time, the Bengals have become playoff contenders while the Browns have been mired with inconsistency. But divisional games always provide a chance for redemption and the Browns should be fired up to give the Bengals some payback for that early-season loss.
The Browns can be big-time spoilers in the AFC North race and it starts with Cincinnati. Here are a few ways in which the Browns can defeat the Bengals on the road on Sunday:
1) Run the ball with confidence – The Browns got some very good news this week regarding their injured running backs. Montario Hardesty is ready to play and it’s possible that Peyton Hillis could see some action as well. If that ends up being the case, the Browns will once again have a complete offense that should be able to run the ball against the league’s third-best rush defense.
2) Win the match-up between Joe Haden and A.J. Green – In Joe Haden’s first match-up with Bengals rookie wide receiver A.J. Green, the second-year cornerback held Green to no catches before the touchdown pass that famously caught the Browns’ defense off-guard. If Haden once again keeps Green in check, the Browns will give themselves a much better chance of staying in this game.
3) Score early – This team could really use some confidence early in games. The Browns have yet to score a touchdown in the first quarter of any game this season, and as they begin to play the toughest part of their schedule, it’s more important than ever that they get off to fast starts. Don’t expect teams like the Bengals, Ravens, or Steelers to do the Browns any favors by struggling offensively.