Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns need a pick-up after the Steelers loss and OBJ debacle. Next? The Cincinnati Bengals, Mayfield’s favorite opponent.
It’s Bengals week.
Despite all of the other distractions and news surrounding this Cleveland Browns team following another disappointing loss, it’s in fact Bengals week.
Kevin Stefanski and the Browns have a chance to get things back on track in the AFC North race against Zac Taylor’s surprisingly competent Bengals team, but he’s got quite a job ahead of him.
Here are the key focus points going into Browns vs. Bengals this Sunday.
Defeating the distraction
Odell Beckham, Jr. is no longer a part of the Cleveland Browns team, according to head coach Kevin Stefanski. In a stunning Wednesday press conference following a not-so-stunning Tuesday trade deadline, Stefanski essentially excommunicated OBJ from the Browns.
The social media #FreeOBJ frenzy from the player’s camp, and notably his family, has helped to push him out of the team as well as introduce a totally new distraction for the team to deal with. It is (apparently) the end of a relationship that never seemed to get off the ground, and regrettably ended in a way that pessimists might have predicted.
But enough about that, there’s a game on Sunday.
The Browns can afford no excuses or distractions from now until the end of the season after a 4-4 start, and especially after an ugly 15-10 loss at home to the Pittsburgh Steelers last Sunday.
They’ve fallen behind in the AFC North, and they have a chance now against an injured Cincinnati Bengals team to get back on track. The Bengals lost to the New York Jets (yes, those New York Jets), and until Mike White proves that he’s the next Joe Namath I’ll be viewing that loss for what it seems on the surface, a loss to the worst team in the NFL and their backup quarterback.
The pressure on the Bengals will likely not be close to the focus on the Browns as they push on without their high profile and handsomely paid wide receiver, but it isn’t nothing. They need a win to prove they’re legit, the Browns need to do the same and shake negative attention.
Both want to take their place in the transforming hierarchy of the AFC and AFC North, and this game will prove a better picture of who has the staying power in that regard.