Luckily, the Cleveland Browns went up against the worst team in the NFL today. Their game against the Bengals was ugly at times, but a win is a win. At 6-7, somehow, the Browns still have a shot to make the playoffs.
Suek: This is a no-excuse game for the Browns, especially on the offensive side of the football. The Bengals defense ranks dead last in explosive pass rate (13%), yards per pass attempt (8.5), rushing yards per game (157.6), and explosive runs (54). On defense, the Browns should be able to generate pressure on opposing quarterback Andy Dalton, who sits behind one of the worst offensive lines in the league. Take care of business and win the third straight Battle of Ohio.
P.S. A welcome back to tight end David Njoku, who will see his first game action since Week 2. Should provide some much-needed help in the red zone.
P.P.S. Kendall Lamm will start over Chris Hubbard at RT today. Hubbard has been a liability (PFF- 65 qualifiers):
59.6 pass-block grade (52nd)
37.6 run-block grade (64th)
31 pressures (14th-most)
8 penalties (T-13th)
Gerbs: Today will be interesting. If the Browns are able to bounce back after a hard loss to Pittsburgh, I feel better about the future and coaching staff in general. Cincinnati is a perfect foil for today, a team at the very bottom of the standings. We need another Miami effort game.
Gilbert: All I have to say is this. The Browns better win or this week will be ugly. The offense gets a key cog back in David Njoku. Hopefully, he helps out the red zone woes. I think we will see a high scoring game today. I think the Browns pull away in the second half and win the game.
Poloha: This is a tough game to get excited about. I mean, the Browns have been quite a disappointment and paired with the latest rumors about OBJ, it’s just the Browns being the same old Browns, unfortunately. If they lose this game, well, that’ll be absolutely embarrassing and could be a loss that Freddie Kitchens can’t survive.
Suek: Well, that’s not how you want to start a game. The Bengals offense moved the ball at will vs. a Browns defense that continues to struggle. However, a big red zone stop kept the Bengals to only three points on their opening drive. The Bengals have not scored an opening-drive touchdown this season.
Gilbert: Well that was not a great showing by the Browns defense on the opening drive. No pass rush and bad tackling.
Gerbs: David Njoku’s first catch since being activated is being reviewed but he couldn’t have been more down than if the defender said: “hey you’re down but I’m going to take this ball and run the other way to see what the refs say”.
Suek: In my opinion, Njoku was clearly down on his first reception in ten games. Had control of the ball and completed the catch on his way to the ground (down by contact).
Gerbs: What a horribly blown call. Any kind of tie goes to the receivers, not the defender.
Suek: Uh…excuse me? NFL referees continue to completely botch calls across the league in every game.
#Browns Not only was the call on the field wrong, the review was wrong as well. NFL officiating continues to be the laughing stock of the sporting world.
— Cody Suek (@WFNYCody) December 8, 2019
Poloha: David Njoku turns the ball over on his first target of the game after returning from the injured reserve. The tight end is officially back.
Gilbert: That was a horrible call on the fumble. First off, Njoku was down. But even if you call it a fumble, the spot is wrong because the defender was contacted on the ground. There should be no return. Just horrible.
Gerbs: THERE’S YOUR MAKEUP CALL B*TCHES. PICK SIX FTW DENZEL WARD.
Poloha: Denzel Ward with the pick-six! Ohio State fans are used to seeing that.
Suek: DENZEL WARD! Been waiting on that play all season from the second-year cornerback. You love to see it.
Gilbert: Denzel Ward makes a play for the defense. This defense, team, and stadium needed it.
Gerbs: In all seriousness, the Browns have been missing the turnover game. They need to get back to being takeaway machines and playing mistake-free on offense.
Dave: I’m drunk already. Thank you, Denzel Ward.
Suek: I’ll have what Dave’s having lol.
Gerbs: The Bengals have definitely been watching the tape and realized the middle of the field is wide open almost always.
Suek: Browns defense is getting absolutely gashed right now. Players and running lanes are wide open across the board.
Gerbs: Huge sack by Sheldon Richardson there on third and seven. Still ended in three, but made the field goal more treacherous. Richardson has been worth every penny earned this year thus far.
Suek: Another big red zone stop by the defense keeps the Bengals to only three points after moving the ball against, what felt like, ten Browns defenders.
Gilbert: Finally some pressure on Dalton. At least the Browns defense is holding the Bengals to 3. But, still not a great start for defense, beyond the pick-six that was handed to them.
Suek: Why is Hilliard returning the kickoff eight yards deep in the end zone?
Gerbs: Why is Hodge in the game in third-down situations?
Suek: Baker had two wide receivers wide open on the tipped pass for an interception. Inaccuracies have plagued the quarterback in his sophomore campaign.
Gilbert: So far today, Mayfield’s accuracy and ball placement have been bad quite frankly. Not a good start for him.
That was the epitome of a #Browns quarter of football in 2019.
— Cody Suek (@WFNYCody) December 8, 2019
Suek: It’s Week 14. The Browns just had 12 men on the field. It’s this type of nonsense that continuously frustrates fans.
Poloha: The Bengals offense just made it look so easy on that touchdown drive following yet another turnover by the Browns offense. Fun times.
Gilbert: This is embarrassing on so many levels. Dalton is carving up the defense.
Suek: I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a more underprepared professional football team.
Gerbs: If Freddie makes it back to his hotel still employed tonight, it will be a miracle.
Gerbs: Not often you actually connect on the 19-yard pass play.
Suek: Is Freddie going to be allowed out of the locker room after halftime?
Gerbs: It’s always nice having one of the best running backs in the game and only allow him to run pitches in the red zone.
Suek: What a play by Baker on the quarterback keeper for a touchdown! Great effort. Now, pull it together, defense.
Gilbert: Baker still does not look great so far, but he made some really nice plays on the drive to get the Browns the lead.
Gerbs: Great stop by the defense. Now is the time to throw it downfield to OBJ’s sports hernia.
Gerbs: Oh hey, look at that.
Suek: This will be overturned. OBJ only had one foot in bounds by the time he completed the catch.
Poloha: This game is just so meh. Boring, honestly.
Gerbs: Freddie should be ashamed that the Browns are being outgained by over 100 yards by the Bengals. The fact that the run game seems to be abandoned before the first half is ridiculous. Nick Chubb deserves better.
Poloha: What happened to Nick Chubb? DId he get kidnapped?
Gerbs: It’s really a mess when the Bengals are out coaching you.
Gerbs: I mean when you have the opportunity to throw a five-yard out to Damion Ratley in the shadow of your own endzone you have to do it, right?
Poloha: Freddie Kitchens just can’t get out of his own way. The fact that the Browns are still somehow winning this game, 14-13, just proves how bad the Bengals really are.
Add in the fact that Baker Mayfield is clearly struggling today and Chubb's disappearance is even more of a mystery.
Granted, the offensive line isn't good, but why does Freddie Kitchens make things so much tougher than they have to be?
— Josh Poloha (@JorshP) December 8, 2019
Gerbs: This defense continually is getting used in the soft spots of the zone defense Steve Wilks is calling: up the middle and the deep corner spots. The offense has dropped to being way too odd heavy, especially considering how good the running back tandem of Chubb and Hunt are. The fact that we are up by a point but calling plays like we are losing by 14 is an issue.
Gilbert: That was a pitiful first half by the Browns. Mayfield has not been good. But, Freddie has somehow forgotten his run game and Nick Chubb. That is a damning decision for a coach on the hot seat. Freddie is not helping himself. On defense, the Browns are making Andy Dalton look good. No pass rush and bad coverage. This was a bad half of football and I don’t care that the Browns are somehow winning. They aren’t playing like a good team.
6 carries for 17 yards.
35.1% of Bengals offensive plays have gone for +/= 10 yards.
Be better in the 2nd half.
— Cody Suek (@WFNYCody) December 8, 2019
Poloha: Amazing what happens when you give the ball to Nick Chubb and allow the leading rusher in the NFL to actually make plays.
Gerbs: NICK CHUBB BABY!!
Gerbs: David Njoku was mobbed on that fade route.
Poloha: Browns run the ball all the way down the field and score a touchdown to begin the second half. If Freddie would have run the ball much more in the first half against the worst run defense in the NFL, this game would have already been over.
Gerbs: JUST RUN THE BALL BABY
Gilbert: Oh hey they ran the ball and good things happened. What do you know?
Gerbs: Gilbert is taking my “oh hey” schtick.
Poloha: go buckeyes
Suek: Six plays. Six rushes. 75 yards. Touchdown. That’s how you do it.
Gerbs: The effort in tackling is lax, to say the least.
Gerbs: A great play by Sheldrick Redwine to break up what would have been either a first down or touchdown to Uzomah. Force a fourth down.
Gerbs: What a huge step up by the defense down here in the red zone. A sack by Larry Ogunjobi and Bryan Cox on first and goal set up some bounce passes by Dalton. Answer here with more running the ball.
Gilbert: Big red zone stop by the defense. They got some good coverage and pressure when they needed it. But, they had way too many missed tackles and holes in coverage, allowing the Bengals to get down there.
Suek: Kudos to the red zone defense today. Only one TD allowed on four trips thus far.
P.S. Bryan Cox, Jr. was huge on that drive.
Gerbs: Nick Chubb is going to have 100 yards in the second half of this game.
Suek: One heck of a kick by Seibert. Doubted the choice to kick it in 20 miles per hour wind gusts, but great job kicker.
Gilbert: Nice FG by Seibert. He has struggled at home in those long FG attempts.
Dave: Eff Andy Dalton.
Gerbs: Third and two, empty backfield, you don’t have a QB spy? That play has been run to death in college, I don’t know how you don’t expect that, no matter how statuesque the opposing quarterback is.
Gerbs: It’s entirely possible that the red zone offense for the Bengals was a gift coached by Freddie Kitchens.
Suek: Browns offense needs to at least get a couple of first downs on this drive in order to flip the field position.
Gilbert: I have to give the defense credit. They are allowing a lot of yards but standing strong in the red zone to force FGs or now a turnover on downs.
Gerbs: I’m not sure how the Bengals are able to complain about a play, get the refs to change the call so that Cleveland has to call the challenge.
Poloha: Baker should have checked down there to a wide-open Kareem Hunt. Instead, he goes for the somewhat deep ball to Jarvis Landry and it’s incomplete.
Suek: That play is a testament to Baker Mayfield not taking what the defense gives him. Hunt was wide open for the first down and he forced the ball downfield to Landry. Also, terrible challenge by Freddie
Gerbs: The play also calls into question roster issues: why is Damion Ratley and Hodge “I literally don’t know your first name” in the game when Higgins is a healthy and active DNP?
Gerbs: I also need to know how many interceptions of Baker’s were tipped balls that were caught by the second player that he forced into double coverage.
Poloha: Another turnover through the air. If only the Browns had some good running backs.
Poloha: Defensive pass interference after the review to nullify the interception. My goodness.
Gerbs: I said to my buddy Dave if they throw the ball more than two times on this drive, they deserve to lose.
Suek: Browns got a call. This is not a drill. THE BROWNS GOT A CALL.
Gerbs: I have no idea what’s going on anymore. This review is baffling.
Gerbs: I don’t quite know how to feel about winning this game this way. The offense didn’t look good til one drive in the second half when all they did was run the ball. Baker didn’t complete 50% of his passes. The defense looked good in the red zone but let the Bengals, arguably the worst offense in the league, get to the red zone too many times. You can’t feel good with this win regardless.
Gilbert: A win is a win. But, the Browns did not make this easy for themselves. The game was a lot easier for them when they started running the ball. The defense stepped up when it needed to inside the red zone. It was a bend, but do not break performance. They won a game they should have.
Suek: Wouldn’t be a Sunday without a stressful Browns game. Luckily, the team did just enough to pull out the victory vs. quite possibly the worst team in football. Quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled mightily, while Nick Chubb and Jarvis Landry continued to show why they are the cornerstones of this offense. I’m not sure I’ve ever felt this blah after a win.
Poloha: A win is a win, and I’ll take any and all Ws for the Browns, especially this season, but man, that was ugly at times. Glad to see that they leaned on Nick Chubb and even Kareem Hunt in the second half even though they should have done so all game against the worst run defense in the NFL. The Bengals are bad and it worked in the Browns’ favor today. Nice W, though. Onto the next one.