Skip to main content

Five things to watch: Bengals at Browns

HB Joe Mixon
HB Joe Mixon

The Bengals look to pick up their first divisional win of the season on Monday Night Football at Cleveland. The game airs on ESPN. Here are five things to watch:

1. Offense going for 30 in three straight

The Bengals offense has scored 30 or more points in each of the past two games after being held under that mark in Weeks 1-5. It also took Cincinnati six games to reach 30 points last season, and the team then followed up by scoring 30+ in five of its next six contests. For Joe Burrow and company to leave FirstEnergy Stadium with a crucial AFC North win, they could use a repeat of that momentum found in 2021.

Going by the numbers, Cincinnati has a good opportunity to put up points, as Cleveland's 26.6 points allowed rank 28th in the NFL. The Browns are 0-3 this season when allowing 30 or more.

2. Burrow coming off 400-yard passing game

Quarterback Joe Burrow threw for 481 yards in Week 7 against Atlanta, his fifth career stat line of 400+ yards. He surpassed Pro Football Hall of Famer Dan Marino for the most such games by a player in his first three seasons in NFL history. In the games following Burrow's four previous 400-yard performances, he has posted remarkably efficient numbers and led the Bengals to a 3-1 record.

Coming off prior 400-yard games, Burrow has completed 70.1 percent of his passes (101 of 144) for 1198 yards (299.5 average) and an 11-1 touchdown-to-interception ratio. Two of those games include a win over the playoff-bound Titans in his 2020 rookie year, and the Wild Card Playoff victory vs. the Las Vegas Raiders last season.

3. Bengals run defense vs. Nick Chubb

Cincinnati's defense allowed 85.8 rushing yards per game through the first four weeks of the season, yielding over 100 just once in that span. Over the past three games, though, opponents have averaged 163.3 yards on the ground. The Bengals' next test comes in the form of Nick Chubb, who entered Week 8 leading the league with 740 rushing yards and eight touchdowns.

Defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo's unit has faced several marquee ball carriers thus far, and answered the bell each time. In Week 2, Cowboys running back was held to 53 yards on 15 rushing attempts for a season-low 3.5 yards per carry. Ravens quarterback Lamar Jackson was averaging 8.5 yards per carry heading into the Sunday Night Football matchup against Cincinnati in Week 5, and was limited to just 4.8 in that contest. Continuing that trend against an elite back in Chubb will provide a crucial advantage for the Bengals on Monday night.

4. Mixon nearing 5,000-yard milestone

Running back Joe Mixon enters Monday night with 4,969 career rushing yards. With just 31 more, he will become the fifth player in team history to reach the 5,000-yard milestone, joining Corey Dillon (8,061), James Brooks (6,447), Rudi Johnson (5,742) and Pete Johnson (5,421). He would also become one of eight active NFL players with 5,000 career yards on the ground.

With Burrow missing one of his top targets in Ja'Marr Chase, and the Bengals facing a Browns run defense that entered Week 8 ranking 24th in the NFL (135.6 yards allowed per game), Mixon may be relied on heavily to give the offense a spark. Mixon's three most efficient games of the season, in terms of yards per carry, have come in the last three weeks.

5. Former Cowboys face off

The on-field chess match between Bengals cornerback Chidobe Awuzie and Browns wide receiver Amari Cooper is Geoff Hobson's Matchup of the Game. Cleveland's ability to feed their leading receiver against a shutdown corner in Awuzie will determine how efficient and versatile it can be offensively. Awuzie and Cooper share plenty of familiarity, spending the better part of three seasons (2018-20) together in Dallas.

Cooper has had a streaky start to the season, but his three best games have all come at home. He posted 101 receiving yards in back-to-back games in September, and caught seven passes for 76 yards and a touchdown against the Chargers in Week 5.

Related Content