Tale Of The Tape: Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns
- QuarterbackAndy Dalton and the Bengals came away with a terrific home victory over the Green Bay Packers in Week Three, but much of that was due to Green Bay's late fumble that was returned for a game-winning touchdown. Dalton is a good quarterback, but he is not elite. He sometimes lacks accuracy when throwing the deep ball.The Browns shocked the NFL when they came up with the upset road win against the Minnesota Vikings. Former third-string quarterback Bryan Hoyer got the Browns off to a good start in the first half and then led the game-winning drive late in the fourth quarter. He threw for 354 yards and three touchdowns to give the Browns a much-needed spark.
- OffenseThe Bengals are becoming a dangerous running team, thanks to the combination of slick rookie Giovanni Bernard and reliable BenJarvus Green-Ellis. A.J. Green is a game-changing receiver who excels at going up to make the catch and accelerating to full speed in an instant once he secures the ball. Mohamed Sanu is becoming a reliable complementary receiver.The Browns appeared to sacrifice the season when they traded second-year stud running back Trent Richardson to the Indianapolis Colts last week. Josh Aubrey does not appear to be a legitimate threat running the ball in his place. Josh Gordon may be an emerging star at wide receiver after catching 10 passes for 146 yards and a touchdown. TE Jordan Cameron caught three TD passes vs. the Vikings.
- DefenseThe Bengals did not have their best game against the run vs. the Packers, but Geno Atkins and Domata Peko normally excel in that area. Vontaze Burfict is one of the hardest hitting linebackers in the league and he is coming off an 11-tackle effort. Terrence Newman made one of the top plays of the year when he returned a fumble 58 yards for a touchdown to give the Bengals the win over Green Bay.While many have been writing off the Browns since training camp, rookie head coach Rob Chudzinski’s team plays with effort and consistency on the defensive side. Nobody personifies this better than linebacker D’Qwell Jackson, who had 10 tackles and a forced fumble against Minnesota. Cornerback Joe Haden appears to be having a solid bounce-back season for the Browns.
- Special TeamsThe Bengals are doing solid work with their coverage teams and don’t give up big plays. Mike Nugent is an ordinary placekicker. Kevin Huber can change field position with his punting ability. The return game is ordinary.The Browns won’t have the advantage in special teams very often. Ordinary PK Billy Cundiff (leg muscle) had to be replaced vs. Minnesota by punter Stephen Lanning. The Browns no longer seem to be a threat in returning kickoffs or punts.
The Bengals have not played their best game yet despite back-to-back wins in Weeks Two and Three. Head coach Marvin Lewis needs a consistent effort on the road against a heated rival if the Bengals are going to avoid the upset. -Steve Silverman, CBS Local Sports contributor