When the Cleveland Browns initially met up with their Ohio rival–the Cincinnati Bengals—in week four of the 2013 NFL season, they were riding a bit of magic. Brian Hoyer was making his second start of the season, his first in Cleveland, and was looking like the unexpected answer to the prayers of Browns fans as he guided his team to a 17-6 win in dominant fashion over Cincy.
Things are drastically different now for the Browns, though. Hoyer tore his ACL in the game immediately following the win over the Bengals and now Jason Campbell is taking the snaps in Cleveland. Moreover, this team hasn’t been as much fun since the Hoyer injury.
One thing that remains consistent, though, is the Browns’ defense. This defensive unit ranks in the top 10 against both the run and the pass on the season and their shaky-at-best offense hasn’t changed that. In actuality, their defense could once again put them in position to knock off the Bengals.
The Browns boast the sixth best run defense this season, which somewhat negates the abilities of Giovani Bernard and BenJarvus Green-Ellis for Cincinnati. Subsequently, the Bengals will likely be putting a lot faith in quarterback Andy Dalton in this game. Given Dalton’s recent performance, that plays in favor of the Browns.
In the Bengals past two games, both going to overtime, Dalton has thrown the ball a ridiculous 104 times. However, he’s completed just 56 of those attempts, thrown for only 612 yards and has just two touchdowns and six interceptions to throw for it. With his struggles combined with the Browns solid pass defense and above-average secondary, the Browns have the edge in this regard.
Because of Cleveland’s defense, I’m picking them to hand Cincy their third consecutive loss. Obviously I have my doubts about the Browns’ ability to put points on the board, but I believe that their defense is geared to cause the Bengals a lot of problems and lead the Browns to victory.