The Cleveland Browns leave the beatdown at Heinz behind to head to Cincinnati and face the Bengals and number one pick, Joe Burrow. The last time these two met, the Ravens had just beat down Cleveland in the opener. We saw a different Cleveland team come out on Thursday night football as the Browns won 35-30. The score was closer than the game as the Browns offense was nearly unstoppable all night. So what do the Browns need to do to sweep the series?
Dominate the line of scrimmage
More of what we saw the first time around. The offensive line demolished the Bengals defensive line allowing the running game to rack up 205 yards and three touchdowns. The passing game was aggressive but smart. Baker Mayfield moved around and out of the pocket, finding targets all over the field. The offense was efficient and explosive that night. They could use another bounce-back game like that one this Sunday, especially the offensive line.
Coming off of what was clearly their worst performance of the year, the offensive line needs to get back to its dominating ways. While they will still be without rising star Wyatt Teller, the Bengals front does not pose the same threat as the Steelers.
The Bengals currently rank 25th overall in defense per Pro Football Reference with the sixth-worst run defense in the NFL. They give up 142.33 yards per game on the ground, which is what the Browns offense (169.5 ypg) does best. Stefanski needs to attack this defense with Kareem Hunt and the rest of the backs Sunday.
The Bengals rank 23rd in passing yards given up and have allowed ten touchdowns in six games. Mayfield hit them for 219 yards and two touchdowns in the first outing. He averaged 9.52 yards per attempt, which is his highest of the year, but did throw an interception.
The Bengals have only 24 hurries and ten sacks on the year, so pressure should not be an issue for Mayfield, who is currently struggling under pressure. The Browns should dominate this game on offense again if they play up to their four-game winning streak form.
Pressure Joe Burrow
Right now, Joe Burrow is all that is good for the Bengals. He is also getting beat to you know what behind a terrible offensive line. This season Burrow has been sacked 24 times. Only the Eagles have given up more, leading to the third-highest sack percentage in the NFL. The Browns front should get after Burrow and create mistakes allowing them to get back to making big plays that help the offense get points.
In the last outing against Burrow, the defense gave up 316 yards and three touchdowns, but it took Burrow throwing 61 times to get those numbers. The Browns did not have an interception but did sack Burrow three times and caused two fumbles, one of them a strip-sack by Myles Garrett. The Browns will need the pass rush to lead the way again Sunday if they want to leave Cincy with a win.
Don’t forget about the run
Joe Mixon is out Sunday, which is good for the defense. Mixon is one of the better backs in the NFL. After watching what James Conner did last Sunday, the Browns run defense must find itself again. This is the chance to do it. Shut down the run game completely and get after Burrow. If they accomplish that, this team should be 5-2 come Monday morning.
Browns Ruled Out Sunday
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