BEREA,OH - The Battle of Ohio begins this week when the Cleveland Browns travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals for the first time this year.
This marks the 78th meeting between these two intra-state rivals with the team vals down south holding a 41-36 advantage, and a 25-14 mark-all time in Cincinnati, ti including an 8-4 record at Paul Brown Stadium iu.
The Bengals swept the season series last year and have won 12 of the last 15 meetings between the two teams. The Browns have not swept the series since 2002.
The Browns have a lot of work to do after the week one loss to the Eagles. Rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden missed several open receivers in one of the worst games he said he has ever played, including four interceptions.
"I am really just harping on the mistakes I made and trying to correct them going into this week. The Bengals are a little bit different style of defense, but still a very good defense," Weeden said.
Trent Richardson will be another key to success on Sunday, after touching the ball just 19 times in his first action since his Aug. 9 surgery to clean up some hanging cartilage. Richardson said he was ready for more work last week and looks forward to a bigger work load.
The Browns offense will need the third overall pick after collecting just 12 first downs and 210 yards of offense.
Even though Weeden did complete just 12 passes, he did throw to seven different receivers, spreading the ball around and keeping the aggressive Eagles defense guessing all day. He will have to do the same to the Bengals, who offer the more traditional 4-3 defense, which has become the norm in the AFC North.
On the defensive side of the ball for the Browns, the league giveth with the return of linebacker Scott Fujita, who had his three-game suspension overturned last week and was returned to the 53-man roster on Tuesday. And the league taketh away, handing defensive back Joe Haden a four-game suspension.
Fujita will be a welcome sign against a Bengals rushing attack led by former New England Patriot BenJarvus Green-Ellis, who had 91 yards and a touchdown against a Ravens defense that was number two against the run in the league last season. The Bengals rushed for 129 yards in the ballgame.
Quarterback Andy Dalton, who directed the Bengals into the playoffs as a rookie last year, has another year under his belt. Without Haden to check A.J. Green, the Browns' secondary will have its work cutout for them. Green had five catches for 70 yards against Baltimore, but the Bengals air attack was held scoreless.
Tempo on the road and getting the early lead will be huge before a sellout crowd in Cincy on Sunday.
Having an increased workload from Richardson and a better day for Weeden will be a good start.
The Browns are very young with 15 rookies on the roster and several of those players made big plays last week. They will have to have another week like that on Sunday.
he Bengals will be looking for a big showing for the home opener.