Just four weeks removed from their last matchup, the Bengals travel to the northeast part of Ohio to face the Cleveland Browns in Week 16.
The Bengals (6-8) and Browns (6-7-1) both are looking for a victory not only to move up in the standings, but also utilize as a springboard to the 2019 season.
Here are the three things to watch:
1. The O Line – Thanks to cohesion and an influx of talent, the offensive line continues to serve as one of the most pleasant and underrated surprises this season. The 2018 group has allowed 30 sacks this season (2.14 per game), down from 40 sacks (2.5 per game) from a year ago.
The running game continues to shine thanks to the recent offensive line play. Running back Joe Mixon rushed 27 times for 129 yards and two touchdowns against the Raiders. In the last four games, the second-year pro out of Oklahoma is averaging 102.8 yards rushing.
Credit offensive line coach Frank Pollock for meshing the group well. The line has not only dealt with four new starters from a year ago, but all six offensive linemen to start a game this year have shown up on the injury report at some point. Their ability to play physical and disciplined will be critical for the offense moving the ball against a much improved Cleveland defense.
2. Milestone Watch – Speaking of Mixon, he stands five rushing yards short of 1,000-yards on the season. He's among the many Bengals who have some career milestones within reach.
Thanks to a career-high three sack demolition derby, Geno Atkins ranks second in the NFL for sacks by an interior defensive lineman with 10. The NFL's sack leader, Los Angeles Rams DT Aaron Donald (16.5), is now listed by Elias Sports Bureau as a defensive end after having had his classification switched between DT and DE multiple times this season.
Defensive end Sam Hubbard is three and half sacks away from Carlos Dunlap's rookie record of 9.5. Meanwhile, the race for Eddie Edwards' all-time sack lead (83.5) continues between Dunlap (72.5) and Atkins (71).
3. Fortify the Run Defense – In the first meeting between the two teams, Cleveland running back Nick Chubb rushed for 84 yards and a touchdown. More importantly, the success on the ground allowed the Browns to set up play action and move the ball down field to a variety of receivers.
The Bengals' defensive front seven has to be ready to step up by continuing to get back to the fundamentals. Being physical up front and maintaining gap responsibility will be huge when going against Chubb. If the Bengals can bottle up Chubb, they will be in excellent position to take this game.
Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.
Television: The game will air on CBS. In the Bengals' home region, it will be carried by WKRC-TV (Ch. 12) in Cincinnati, WHIO-TV (Ch. 7) in Dayton and on WKYT-TV (Ch. 27) in Lexington. Broadcasters are Spero Dedes (play-by-play) and Adam Archuleta (analyst).
Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).