3. Giovani Bernard, Cincinnati Bengals
The AFC North division is strong when it comes to running backs. While this may come across as a compliment to Duke Johnson and Isaiah Crowell, it certainly isn’t good news for Cleveland’s defense.
The Browns have dropped five straight games against the Cincinnati Bengals and have been outscored 149-40 in these contests. With a lopsided and downright uncompetitive rivalry like this, a lot has to have gone wrong. One of the major areas to blame for the Browns is run defense.
The Bengals are a pass-first offense for the most part, but have relied heavily on their rushing attack in recent matchups with the Browns. Reasons for this could be wide-ranging, as the Bengals could be taking the ball out of Andy Dalton‘s hands more due to the large leads they always seem to accumulate.
But it would still be naive to ignore the fact that Cleveland’s defense simply hasn’t been equipped to stop Bernard or Hill, which encourages the play calling to stay on the ground more often.
How do the Browns turn it around? It’s always difficult with a two-headed rushing attack, but the Browns can slow down the Bengals running game by taking them out of their comfort zone. Emphasizing first and second down and forcing them to make predictable play calls is ultimately the way to prevent another 200+ yard afternoon on the ground. Easier said than done, but possible nonetheless.
The Browns will welcome in the Bengals for a Week 4 matchup, and will travel down to the Queen City in Week 12.