Cleveland Browns Week 7 Preview: Cincinnati Bengals

It’s been a rough week for the Cleveland Browns. Nobody is taking the team seriously, even as they sit at 4-2 and are in the middle of the playoff race.

Fear not, however; this week, the Browns face off against the Cincinnati Bengals in a nice bounce-back game after their extremely underwhelming performance against the Pittsburgh Steelers.

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Keep Mayfield Upright

Baker Mayfield played horribly against the Steelers, but a major reason for that was the offensive line failing to keep him upright in the pocket or away from pressure.

Mayfield was pressured on roughly 47% of his dropbacks. Yes, he only threw 18 attempts due to his benching/injury, but regardless, that is horrible. No quarterback can succeed if they aren’t given time to survey the field and make the correct read.

Now, the Bengals defense is nothing compared to the Steelers, but if the O-line turns into a revolving door again, then it’s not going to end well. Luckily, it seems that Cincinnati’s main players along the defensive line — Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap — aren’t being used as much, and that could mean a much easier time for Mayfield.

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Stick to Your Identity

The Browns’ offensive identity is running the football and utilizing play-action to their tight ends and receivers. Establishing the run should be fairly easy this week, as the Bengals run defense is ranked 24th in that area and their passing defense is not much better. Combine that with a questionable secondary (excluding Jessie Bates), and this game should not be too difficult to finish.

Knowing the Browns and Baker Mayfield these past two weeks, however, I wouldn’t be too shocked if the game is closer than it should be.

As long as Mayfield throws the football to his teammates instead of the opponents, then all should go well. With a young defense in the Bengals, and it still being October, the Browns offense might benefit from some more trickery and unexpected play calls — but only if the situation allows it.

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Pressure the Quarterback

Joe Burrow is currently the most-sacked quarterback in the league — which isn’t too surprising considering his dumpster fire of an O-line — and I feel (slightly) bad for the guy.

With Myles Garrett and Olivier Vernon lining up opposite of that Cincinnati O-line, I guarantee that Burrow will be in for a rough day, which is consistent with his whole season, thus far. If not sacks, then Burrow will be under enough pressure that he will wish to be benched by halftime. Along with those pressures and hits, Cleveland’s secondary should capitalize on Burrow’s mistakes, and hopefully, re-establish this team as legitimate — even though it’s against the Bengals…

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Final Thoughts and Score Prediction

All-in-all, this Bengals team is a perfect bounce-back from the previous week — well, outside of the New York Jets.

Weak defense, weak offensive line, and a rookie quarterback are a recipe for dominance. This Browns defense alone should make this game winnable by at least a score.

If called upon, I’m confident in the offense’s ability to make the necessary plays to keep drives alive or to impose their will.

Score Prediction: Browns 30, Bengals 16

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