Think you know everything about the Battle of Ohio? Well, may I remind you that modesty is a virtue and nobody likes a bragger.
Not exactly my best opening to an article, granted, but let me make it up to you with a fistful of tasty tidbits about this AFC North rivalry. Yes, that’s right; we’re going beyond the X’s and O’s for this one so buckle your chinstrap and allow me to learn you somethin’.
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1. The Trusted Law Firm
Entering Sunday’s contest, Cincinnati Bengals RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis has touched the ball 555 times in his 5-year career, including pass receptions and hand-offs, and has never fumbled once. That spotless record includes 52 cumulative touches in the postseason and 18 smashmouth carries against the Baltimore Ravens last week. Green-Ellis is what I deem as a nickel-and-dimer; he may not break open your fantasy game or hit the home run, but it’s a rare commodity to have a consistent between-the-tackles tailback that doesn’t cough up the ball.
Keeping his streak alive this season may prove difficult now that he is in the same division as the hard-nosed Ravens and Pittsburgh Steelers defenses, but I expect him to be as sure-handed as ever against the Browns makeshift, milquetoast defense.
2. Ohio Is For Bengal Lovers
Sunday’s game marks the 78th meeting in the Battle of Ohio. Overall, the Bengals lead the series 41-36 and, with head coach Marvin Lewis at the helm, Cincinnati has an impressive 13-5 record against the Cleveland Browns, along with a dominant 7-2 record at home. Time to break out the pocket knife because I have a distinct feeling the Bengals will need to make a 14th notch in that belt come Sunday evening.
3. Cleveland Owes The Bengals A New Scoreboard
At least that’s where things are headed since Cincinnati has a tendency to light it up when the Browns roll into town. The two highest-scoring games in Cincinnati’s history have come against the Browns, and both of them have come during the Marvin Lewis-era. Most recently, on November 28, 2004, the Bengals defeated the Browns in an unexpected shootout, 58-48. The two teams combined for 106 total points (put the calculator down), which is the second-highest point tally in NFL history.
It’s hard to expect a repeat performance of that calibur, but who knows? The Browns will be playing without their top corner, Joe Haden and the Bengals have to have a huge chip on their shoulders after the Ravens hung 44 on them Monday night. Never say never, I suppose, but the Bengals shouldn’t need more than half of those 58 points to best Cleveland.
4. “You Got Your Faine In My Frostee!”
Or is it the other way around? I can never tell. Bengals center, Jeff Faine played the journeyman veteran role flawlessly last Monday, filling in for the injured Kyle Cook; so what better way to reward him than have him face off against a Cleveland squad that drafted him 21st overall in the 2003 Draft? I’ll do you one better. How about letting him protect QB Andy Dalton from Browns DE Frostee Rucker, a former third-round pick of the Bengals in 2006.
You know, with all these orange jerseys swapping, we’re gonna . . . you know . . . have a lot of orange jers– forget it.
5. The Baby Browns
No, that’s not smack talk; the Browns do, in fact, have a ton of rookies starting for their team. So many that their roster last Sunday made NFL history by having the most rookie starters in an opening day matchup since 1966 – the beginning of the Super Bowl era. Count them with me: QB Brandon Weeden, RB Trent Richardson, WR Josh Gordon, RT Mitchell Schwartz, DT Billy Winn, and LB L.J. Fort.
Six! Six rookies! Ah ah ah! *Cue lightning and thunder*
6. The Baby Browns II: Infant Harder
Can the government flag me for having that as a headline? Anyway, yes, last Sunday the Browns did something that only two other teams in NFL history have done, which is start a rookie quarterback, tailback, and wide receiver in the same game.
7. “How Did You Manage That?”
Last week, the Browns recorded a total of 4 interceptions and 5 takeaways during their debacle of a football game against the Philadelphia Eagles. However, not to be outdone, Browns QB Weeden was nice enough to return the favor by throwing 4 picks. So, that essentially means the Browns currently lead the league in team INTs and takeaways, but their turnover ratio is only +1.
It’s moments like these when I wish I could pay someone to play tuba clumsily while I watch Cleveland play football.
8. “And The Award For Goofiest Postgame Show Name Ever Goes To . . .”
The PNC Bank Browns Radio Network program, The Cleveland Browns Taco Bell Doritos Locos Tacos Postgame Show on WMMS 100.7 FM in Cleveland.
What can I say? Sometimes you have to “live mas”.
Don’t sue me! I put it in quotes!
9. “Wait, what?”
Did you know that Browns backup tailback, Brandon Jackson is 6th on the list of active running backs with consecutive games with at least one reception? Yeah, seriously.
Jackson’s 22-game streak between his days as a Green Bay Packer and a Brown is bested only by five players: LeSean McCoy, Arian Foster, Darren Sproles, Ahmad Bradshaw, and Pierre Thomas. One of these things certainly isn’t like the others, but I will certainly be rooting for Jackson to extend his streak Sunday because why not?
10. For Your Viewing Pleasure
Cleveland’s celebrated return man, Joshua Cribbs has made not one, but two special appearances on popular TV shows. Back in 2010, Cribbs guest-starred in the Season 2 premiere of FX’s The League (checks out) then followed it up with an appearance on the TV-Land Betty White-vehicle, Hot in Cleveland.
One can only hope Cribbs played White’s love interest. Please God, do I ever ask you for anything? Come on, just this once!