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Place: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
The Cincinnati Bengals’ three-game winning streak came to a surprising end last week against a rookie quarterback. They have to be confident that they’ll bounce back this week, though, against yet another rookie signal caller.
That’s because the visiting Bengals have won four straight and 13 of the last 16 meetings in the “Battle of Ohio” rivarly with Cleveland, which has lost 11 in a row overall. Cleveland hasn’t beaten Cincinnati since 2010, but the last seven meetings have been decided by an average of just 5.3 points.
The last time they met, Cincinnati rebounded from a 44-13 season-opening loss to Baltimore with a 34-27 home win over the Browns on Sept. 17.
Andy Dalton passed for 318 yards and three touchdowns, while Adam Jones returned a punt 81 yards for a score. Dalton and standout wide receiver A.J. Green will face a Browns’ secondary bolstered by the return of star cornerback Joe Haden, who served a four-game suspension for violating the league’s drug policy.
Cincinnati Bengals (3-2): The Bengals were stunned at home by Miami 17-13 due in part to a sputtering offense that converted just 2-of-14 third downs and turned the ball over three times.
It was a unit that entered averaging 33.0 points during the three-game winning streak. Dalton had his worst game of the season, finishing 26-of-43 for 234 yards with a touchdown and two interceptions.
Dalton’s game-clinching interception dropped his league-leading, fourth-quarter quarterback rating to 127.7. Green, who’s fifth in the league in catches (36) and yards (493) and tied for second in touchdowns (4), had nine catches for 65 yards and a score. Defensively, Cincinnati is tied for the league lead in sacks with 18 despite taking Ryan Tannehill down only three times last week.
Cleveland Browns (0-5): Cleveland jumped out to a 14-0 lead against the Giants last week before being blown out 41-27. The defense, once thought to be an area of strength, is now 25th in the league in scoring (27.8 ppg) and 26th against the pass (280.6).
The return of Haden – arguably the best young corner in the league – may help, but the Browns will likely be without LB and second-leading tackler D’Qwell Jackson (doubtful; concussion). Meanwhile, RB Trent Richardson continues to shine, as he racked up 128 total yards and a touchdown last week.
Richardson, who ran for season-high 109 yards and scored twice (one rushing, one receiving) in the first meeting, is the first Browns’ rookie to record a rushing touchdown in four straight games. Rookie Brandon Weeden (1,288 yards, 5 TDs, 9 INT) has the lowest quarterback rating (64.5) in the league.
1. The Browns sacked Dalton six times in the first meeting, their highest total since 2009.
2. Green, who’s scored in four straight games, had seven catches for 58 yards and a touchdown in the win over Cleveland.
3. Dalton has completed 71 percent of his passes for 669 yards with five touchdowns and one interception in three games versus Cleveland.