Game Preview: "Battle of Ohio" - Browns at Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick (27) looks on during an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 in Cincinnati. (NFL Photos via AP)
Cincinnati Bengals defensive back Dre Kirkpatrick (27) looks on during an NFL football game against the Miami Dolphins on Sunday, Oct. 7, 2018 in Cincinnati. (NFL Photos via AP)

Kickoff: 1 p.m. Eastern.

Television: The game will air on CBS-TV. 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 Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Rich Gannon (analyst) and Steve Tasker (sideline reporter).

Radio: The game will air on the Bengals Radio Network, led by Cincinnati flagship stations WLW-AM (700), WCKY-AM (ESPN 1530; all sports) and WEBN-FM (102.7). Broadcasters are Dan Hoard (play-by-play) and Dave Lapham (analyst).

Tickets: Fans may purchase tickets through the Bengals Ticket Hotline at (513) 621-8383, online at Bengals.com (order tickets) or by visiting the Paul Brown Stadium ticket office. For those who purchase individual game tickets on Bengals.com or the Bengals app will not be subject to additional processing fees when they choose mobile tickets as the delivery option.

Setting the scene: After a narrow loss last week to the division rival Baltimore Ravens, the Cincinnati Bengals look to rebound on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium against another division rival, the Cleveland Browns.

“We just have to keep going,” Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after last week’s 24-21 defeat. “It’s a race now, and that’s what we’re here for. That’s the thing, it’s now a race to the finish. We’ll be a better football team coming out of this than we were going in.”

Lewis took over as defensive coordinator last week after relieving Teryl Austin of his duties on Nov. 12. While the change didn’t produce immediate dramatic results with respect to yardage given up — the Ravens gained 403 total yards, including 265 rushing — Lewis and Bengals players were optimistic that the defense was headed in the right direction.

On offense last week, Cincinnati played without seven-time Pro Bowl WR A.J. Green for the second straight game, and his absence was noticeable. The Bengals totaled just 255 net yards, their second lowest output of the season.

There were, however, positives for the Bengals’ offense to take away from the contest, which featured a Ravens defense that entered the game No. 2 in the NFL in both yards and points allowed. WR John Ross, who has been fighting a groin injury since late September, displayed continued progress with a contested 22-yard TD catch, and WR Tyler Boyd, who has drawn increased attention from defenses in Green’s absence, converted key third downs on all four of his receptions. Green’s status for Sunday’s contest against Cleveland will not be known until later this week, but with or without him, the Bengals’ offense will look to increase its production against a Browns defense that ranks 31st in the NFL.

Not all of the intrastate intrigue that surrounds Sunday’s “Battle of Ohio” will take place between the white sidelines. That’s because Hue Jackson, who was fired as head coach of the Browns on Oct. 29, will be coaching from the Bengals’ bench. Jackson, who joined the Bengals’ staff on Nov. 13, spent seven previous seasons with Cincinnati and is considered to be among the top assistant coaches in team annals. As receivers coach from 2004-06, he oversaw the rise of WRs Chad Johnson, T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chris Henry. As running backs coach in 2013, he guided HB Giovani Bernard to one of the top rookie seasons for a Bengals running back. And as offensive coordinator from 2014-15, he directed Bengals offenses that were among the most dynamic in the NFL.

Cincinnati enters its matchup with Cleveland with little room for error. While still very much in the playoff picture, the Bengals are one of five AFC teams with 5-5 records. That list includes one team with which the Bengals have split two meetings (Baltimore), two teams they have beaten (Indianapolis and Miami) and one team they are not scheduled to play this season (Tennessee). Denver, which travels to Cincinnati next week, is just behind that group at 4-6.

The Browns, who had their bye last week, recorded a 28-16 home win against Atlanta on Nov. 11.

The series: The Bengals lead 50-39 in the “Battle of Ohio” series and have won the last seven games. Home field has been a factor over the length of the series, as the Bengals lead 30-15 at home but trail 20-24 as the road club.

The Bengals have won 21 of the last 27 meetings and lead 22-8 in games during the tenure of Cincinnati head coach Marvin Lewis, including 10-5 at Cleveland and 12-3 at Cincinnati.

The Bengals have played more games against the Browns (89) than any foe except Pittsburgh. The Bengals have 98 all-time games against the Steelers.

More series notes:

  • The Bengals’ current seven-game winning streak against the Browns is their longest in the series. The current streak began the second meeting of 2014. The Bengals’ previous longest streak was a five-game run from Game 2 of 2004 through Game 2 of ’06.
  • The Browns’ longest win streak over Cincinnati has been seven games, extending from Game 2 of the 1992 season through Game 2 of ’95.
  • Since the Browns’ rebirth in 1999, the Bengals lead 26-12, including 12-7 as the visiting team and 14-5 as the home team.

Bengals seek to grow biggest ‘Battle’ margin: With their two victories in 2017, the Bengals extended to 11 their benchmark for the biggest lead held by either side in the “Battle of Ohio” series, which began in 1970. Cincinnati’s current lead is 50-39, and this week the Bengals will try to extend their series margin to 12 games.

The series began with the Browns winning six of the first seven, and their five-game margin at 6-1, after the first meeting of 1973, stands as their largest lead. The Bengals lead 49-33 since that Cleveland high-water mark. The Browns have not led the series since the end of 2005, when they held a 33-32 edge.

Since surrendering that 33-32 lead by giving up a sweep in the 2006 meetings, the Browns have twice pulled into ties — at 34-34 after game one of ’07 and at 35-35 after game one of ’08. But the Browns have now endured nearly a 12-year stretch without a lead in the series. Barring possible additions to the series in postseason play, the Bengals cannot surrender their series lead until after the first game of 2023, at the earliest. The Browns could not lead again until after the second game of ’23.

Bengals tough against rookie QBs: The Bengals this weekend are slated to face Browns rookie QB Baker Mayfield, marking the ninth time in Marvin Lewis’ tenure (2003-present) that Cleveland has started a rookie QB against Cincinnati. The Bengals’ record in those contests is 7-1, with the only outlier being a 34-24 loss at Cleveland in 2012 at the hands of QB Brandon Weeden. In that game, Bengals QB Andy Dalton passed for a then-career-high 381 yards (now his second-most ever), and WR A.J. Green hauled in two TD catches for the first multi-TD game of his career.

Dalton has played six games against Cleveland rookie QBs, and holds a 5-1 record.

Overall, Lewis is 18-14 (.563) in games against rookie starting quarterbacks, and Dalton is 11-7 (.611). The Bengals are 0-1 this season against rookie QBs, after losing last week at Baltimore, which started rookie Lamar Jackson.

Bengals-Browns connections: Bengals special assistant to the head coach Hue Jackson was head coach of the Browns from 2016 until Oct. 29, 2018 ... Browns OL Kevin Zeitler entered the NFL as a first-round draft choice (27th overall) of the Bengals in 2012, and was with the team through the ’16 season ... 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 defensive line coach Clyde Simmons played for the Bengals in 1998 ... Browns DB T.J. Carrie played at Ohio University ... Bengals TE Mason Schreck (Reserve/Injured) is from Medina, Ohio (Medina High School) ... Bengals QB Connor Cook (practice squad) is from Hinckley, Ohio (Walsh Jesuit High School) ... 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 from 1995-98, and Miami (Ohio) University from ’99-2000. ... Browns offensive line coach Bob Wylie was on the Bengals’ coaching staff 1997-98. Wylie also coached at Ohio University from 1985-87 and the University of Cincinnati in 1996. ... Bengals defensive line coach Jacob Burney was on the Browns’ coaching staff from 1994-95 ... Browns offensive quality control coach Brian Braswell was on the Bengals’ coaching staff from 2014-15 ... Browns special teams coordinator Amos Jones coached at the University of Cincinnati from 1999-2002 ... Bengals strength and conditioning coach Chip Morton coached at Ohio State University from 1985-86 ... Browns assistant defensive line coach Ken Delgado coached at the University of Louisville from 2008-09 ... Browns strength and conditioning coordinator Evan Marcus coached at the University of Louisville from 1998-99.

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