The Cincinnati Bengals have lost four of their last five games and dropped one spot out of the AFC playoff picture with Sunday’s defeat at Baltimore, but this week could be a chance to get back on track.
Cincinnati (5-5) hosts the Cleveland Browns (3-6-1) on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium, having won seven straight in the series against their “Battle of Ohio” rivals.
This is the first meeting between the teams this season. Three of the Bengals’ next six games are against AFC North opponents, including the Dec. 23 game at Cleveland and finale at Pittsburgh on Dec. 30.
“It’s like the first game of the season,” wide receiver John Ross said. “We’ve got to continue to prove ourselves and go out and win that game. Win the next game. Because every game from here on out is very pivotal for where we want to be. ”
Cincinnati’s last loss to Cleveland was at home in 2014, a 24-3 game in which Brian Hoyer out-performed Andy Dalton on Thursday Night Football. Hoyer threw for 198 yards with no turnovers, while Dalton managed just 86 yards and threw three interceptions.
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The Bengals bounced back in the second matchup that season, winning 30-0 in Cleveland, and they have won every game since, outscoring the Browns 213-63 over the seven-game winning streak. Last season, Cincinnati won 31-7 on the road and 30-16 at home.
Bengals players believe a win Sunday puts Cincinnati back where it needs to be in the playoff hunt. Five teams are sitting at 5-5 and competing for the last spot in the AFC.
“We’re still in good shape,” wide receiver Tyler Boyd said Monday. “We need to win these last three division games. It’s going to come down to us having to beat the Steelers in the last game, but we have to take care of the Browns first. If we complete that, then if we can beat the Steelers, that will put us where we need to be.”
Cincinnati has won at least one game in the series every year since Marvin Lewis became head coach in 2003. The Browns last sweep of the Bengals was in 2002.
The Bengals are 50-39 against the Browns all-time since the series began in 1970.
Bengals special assistant to the head Hue Jackson was head coach of the Browns from 2016 until Oct. 29, 2018. … Browns quarterbacks coach Ken Zampese was on the Bengals’ coaching staff from 2003-17, and served as offensive coordinator in ’16 and ’17 … Bengals DE Sam Hubbard, C Billy Price, DT Adolphus Washington and LB Chris Worley (practice squad) all played at Ohio State University. Worley is from Cleveland (Glenville High School), and Price is from Austintown, Ohio. … Browns DB Denzel Ward also played at Ohio State University … Browns TE Orson Charles was a fourth-round draft choice (116th overall) of the Bengals in 2012, and was with the team through the ’13 season… Browns OL Kevin Zeitler was a first-round draft choice (27th overall) of the Bengals in 2012, and was with the team through the 2016 season … Bengals TE Matt Lengel spent last season with the Browns. … Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was on the Browns staff from 1994-95 … Browns tight ends coach Greg Seamon spent 13 seasons (2003-15) with the Bengals, primarily as a scout. Seamon also coached at the University of Cincinnati (1995- 98) and Miami (Ohio) University (’99-00) … Browns defensive line coach Clyde Simmons played for the Bengals in 1998 … Bengals TE Mason Schreck (Reserve/Injured) is from Medina, Ohio (Medina High School) … Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie coached at Ohio University (1985-87), the University of Cincinnati (’96) and with the Bengals (’97-98) … Browns DL Chris Smith spent the 2017 season with the Bengals. … … Bengals QB Connor Cook (practice squad) is from Hinckley, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit High School).
AFC NORTH OUTLOOK
Pittsburgh Steelers (7-2-1): The Steelers have won six straight, including Sunday’s 20-16 win over Jacksonville. They travel to play Denver on Sunday.
Baltimore Ravens (5-5): The Ravens beat the Bengals 24-21 on Sunday and overtook Cincinnati for the sixth seed spot in the AFC playoff picture. Baltimore hosts Oakland on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns (3-6-1): The Browns had a bye last week, following a 28-16 win over Atlanta in Week 10. They travel to play the Bengals on Sunday.