3 Things To Watch – Cleveland Week 17

Cincinnati Bengals running back Joe Mixon (28) celebrates with wide receiver Tyler Boyd (83) after scoring against the Los Angeles Rams during the first half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Oct. 27, 2019, at Wembley Stadium in London. (AP Photo/Tim Ireland)
If Joe Mixon (left) and Tyler Boyd (right) both reach 1,000 yards rushing and receiving respectively, they would join running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver Chad Johnson (2004-05 and ’05-06) as the only duo in Bengals history to accomplish those feats together in back-to-back seasons.

One game remains and the Bengals are still grinding.

Head coach Zac Taylor knows it has not been an ideal start to his Bengals tenure. With both the Bengals and Browns out of the playoff chase, externally there might be little to play for as both franchises will soon begin to prep for the offseason. 

However, Taylor understands the value of closing out 2019 on a high note and generating momentum heading into the New Year.

"Everything," Taylor said. "It's a home game. We've only won one of them. We haven't won a divisional game yet. You can end the season on a positive note. It's no different than any other game, in that we always want to win. There are a lot of things to pull from here. It's a reward for hard work and for the things these guys have put in, and a reward for the city. I know the city wants us to beat Cleveland, as they should — the fan base, the coaching staff, everyone in this building. There's plenty to play for this week."

Here are the three things to watch in Cincinnati's final home game of 2019.

1. Setting Records – This is always a fun one for those who love stats and history. Despite the 2019 record, there are plenty of statistical records that could be reached. 

Running back Joe Mixon needs 25 yards to reach 1,000 for the second consecutive season. Wide receiver Tyler Boyd is also close to 1,000 yards needing 13 on Sunday to reach that plateau. If they both hit their marks, they would join running back Rudi Johnson and wide receiver Chad Johnson (2004-05 and '05-06) as the only duo in Bengals history to accomplish those feats together in back-to-back seasons.

2. Sack Baker – In the first meeting between the two teams in Cleveland, the Bengals only recorded one sack against Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield. In fact, the Bengals have sacked Mayfield only once in his three career games against Cincinnati. 

The Bengals' defense has failed only three times this season to register a sack. When Cincinnati's defense is at its best, the unit generates consistent pressure on the quarterback. In the previous six games the Bengals have recorded 15 sacks and 26 passes defended.

3. Who Can Run It The Best – Keeping the Browns' offense off the field is half the battle, and there's no better way to do that than carving up big chunks of clock on the ground.

The Browns are allowing 142.2 rushing yards per game, the third-most in the NFL. However in the previous four games, Cleveland has been gashed on the ground allowing 193 yards per contest. Seven of the nine Browns' losses have come when other team runs the ball for 100-plus yards against them. 

On the flip side, Cincinnati has allowed 153.9 rushing yards per game, the highest average in the league. What is encouraging though is the defense continues to show improvement in this area. Since the calendar turned to December, the Bengals are allowing 119.8 rushing yards a game and limited two of their last four opponents below the 100-yard mark. It will be a great challenge for the Bengals to limit the NFL's leading rusher, Cleveland running back Nick Chubb.

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GAME COVERAGE

Kickoff: 1 p.m. ET

Television: The game will air on FOX. In Cincinnati, it will be carried by WXIX-TV (Ch. 19). Broadcasters are Brandon Gaudin (play-by-play), Robert Smith (analyst) and Megan Olivi (sideline reporter).

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).

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