Cleveland Browns vs Bengals: Predictions for Hue Bowl 2.0
Writer: Elliot Kennel
Game: Cincinnati Bengals (6-8) at Cleveland Brown (6-7-1)
Summary: Jeff Driskel is a real prospect. But he’s not enough as the Bengals collapse under the psychological strain of having to uphold Hue Jackson’s honor.
Admittedly there are a lot of people rubbing their hands in glee expecting that the Browns will make short work of the Cincinnati Bengals and their backups. Andy Dalton, Tyler Eifert, and A.J. Green are out. The Bengals are forced to start a backup named Jeff Driskel at quarterback.
Sounds like a sitting duck, right? Well maybe not. Driskel was supposed to be the next Tim Tebow at Florida but wound up getting injured and ultimately transferred to Louisiana Tech. He was dynamite at Tech, throwing for 4,000 yards. At the combine, he ran a 4.56 40-yard dash, which is scorching hot for a guy who is 6-foot-4 and 234-pounds. He was drafted in the 6th round by San Francisco, another team with no clue on how to develop a quarterback, and they let him go on waivers to the grateful Bengals.
He’s now in his third year, and he might be a real threat to Andy Dalton. Unfortunately, this week his targets are rather limited as Dalton and superstar wide receiver A. J. Green is out, along with talented tight end Tyler Eifert. Another wide receiver, 1,000-yard man Tyler Boyd, is listed as questionable but has youth on his side, so he has a very good chance of playing on Sunday.
With Joe Mixon grinding out yards on the ground, the Bengals should be able to score points. The Bengals can also be tough on defense, with former Pro Bowl DE Carlos Dunlap, two-time All-Pro NT Geno Atkins and DE Sam Hubbard from Ohio State combining for 24 sacks. There is talent on this team.
Psychologically, however, the Bengals are in a tough position. With Hue Jackson now an important assistant for the Bengals, he wants to win badly against his former team. Will that inspire his new team?
Heck no! No doubt the Bengals players are fearful rather than hopeful that Hue Jackson may become the next head coach because he will bring his 3-36-1 record with him. Certainly, the players will be professional about it, but they have been put in a very difficult situation, being asked to get up for a guy that makes them feel uninspired and depressed.
By making this bonehead hire, Marvin Lewis may have finally earned himself a pink slip at the end of the year. This is the kind of situation that often results in bad plays, penalties, and unforced errors. Look for costly turnovers and disasters especially in the second half, despite generally good numbers from Driskel, Joe Mixon and Boyd.
The Browns, on the other hand, have the opportunity to punish the guy that made them 0-16, and who many feel frittered away a playoff caliber roster at the beginning of training camp. They are firing on all cylinders on offense both through the air and on the ground. Players have the opportunity hand it to the guy who has kept you out of the playoffs. They will know what to do.
Final score: Cleveland 52, Cincinnati 24