Key Matchups: Bengals vs. Browns

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VS.

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KEY MATCHUPS
NOVEMBER 26, 2006

A former football executive for an NFL club (The Guru) and a current player personnel director for a team not in the Bengals division (The Chief) break down Sunday's game and give the edge to the visiting Bengals because they don't think Cleveland can outscore Cincinnati.

The Guru: The Browns are still trying to find a way to win. They never should have lost to Pittsburgh last week and there are some other games they let get away. They've got some good young players and this will be a tough game for Cincinnati because they won't give them anything easy on offense. But I don't think the Browns can keep up with the Bengals scoring.

The Chief: I have to believe the Bengals coaches are pretty relieved watching the tape this week. Cleveland's talent just isn't anywhere near what they have played for the last month. The Bengals have played a brutal schedule, and they have to be careful because this can be a trap game because they've got Baltimore in a few days. But the Browns just don't have the personnel. It would have to be a major disappointment to Marvin Lewis if they lost.

WHEN THE BENGALS HAVE THE BALL
* center>LT Andrew Whitworth vs. Browns ROLB Kamerion Wimbley*

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Whitworth

Wimbley is a reason why the Bengals were saying after that game in the second week of the season that the Browns would be better on defense.

And the ground game is big against Cleveland as head coach Romeo Crennel's crafty Cover Two designed to take away the long ball gives the running game a crevice to dominate. It has in all three Rudi Johnson-Crennel matchups in which Johnson has averaged 147 yards.

Johnson hasn't caught a ball longer than 18 yards against Crennel. Let's see if the Bengals stay aggressive and go for it even if the Browns take it away.

The matchup is clear. Stat-speaking, the Bengals are dead last against the pass and the Browns are third worst running the ball. After getting pummeled by Phillip Rivers and Drew Brees for more than 800 yards the last two weeks, the Bengals have to stop a team that hasn't thrown for more than 250 yards in two months.

The big tight ends haven't dominated the Bengals, but they have hurt them on single-play breakdowns. In the 26-20 loss to the Ravens, the Bengals allowed only three passes longer than 20 yards, but two went to Heap including the long of 28. The next week they gave Gates just five catches for 69 yards, but one was a killing 27-yarder on San Diego's last scoring drive.

And the Browns do turn it over. Their 24 giveaways are only behind the Steelers in the NFL.

The best thing Graham can do is not let anybody try to tackle Cribbs and keep his touchback groove going. He has 10 touchbacks this season, tied for fourth in the NFL, and just four behind the leaders working in ideal conditions, Paul Ernster in Denver and Olindo Mare in Miami.

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