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News » Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-09-27

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-09-27

Cincinnati Bengals Inside Slant 2008-09-27
The Bengals, even at 0-3, aren't out of the race in what might be one of the weakest divisions in the NFL.

The Cleveland Browns, expected to challenge for the AFC North crown but, like the Bengals, mired in an 0-3 start, travel to Cincinnati Sunday for the 70th meeting in "The Battle of Ohio."

Ohio, like Missouri's two NFL teams, the Chiefs and Rams, is winless so far this season.

Despite their same records, the Bengals and Browns might be headed in different directions -- based on their Week 3 performances. The Bengals pushed the defending Super Bowl champion New York Giants into overtime at Giants Stadium before losing 26-23. The Bengals offense, dormant the first two weeks, showed up in Week 3. And the Bengals defense, young and playing without injured starting cornerback Johnathan Joseph (ankle), actually made the Giants earn every yard on the ground.

The Browns were dominated at Baltimore, losing 28-10 to the division rival Ravens. The Bengals lost 17-10 at Baltimore in the opener. Cleveland has lost two division games in a row, falling at home to Pittsburgh the week before, and risks falling to 0-4 and 0-3 in the AFC North if they should lose Sunday.

The Bengals could get to 1-3 and 1-1 in the division if they should handle the Browns.

"We did a lot of good things," Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis said after the Giants game, "but not enough, and not for long enough."

The Bengals, after terrible performances against the Ravens and Tennessee in their first two games, actually emerged somewhat re-energized from the overtime loss to the Giants.

"It's a heartfelt loss," said middle linebacker Dhani Jones, who led the defense with 15 tackles. "We can't change the fact we're 0-3, but we saw the ability we have on the field, against a great opponent. We'll move forward from it."

As odd as it might sound, the Bengals can legitimize the momentum they took out of the Meadowlands if they can win Sunday.

There were rumors earlier in the week that Browns coach Romeo Crennel might switch from Derek Anderson to second-year quarterback Brady Quinn in an attempt to pump life into an offense that has struggled in the first three games. Anderson will start, but Crennel said Wednesday, but Quinn "will be ready."

Whoever is playing quarterback for the Browns, the Bengals had better generate some pressure. So far, they have only one sack in three games, from end Antwan Odom in Week 2 against the Titans; the Bengals were last in the NFL with 22 sacks in 2007 and are on an even more anemic pace in the first three weeks of 2008. Anderson threw three interceptions at Baltimore.

The Bengals expect to get a steady diet of Browns tailback Jamal Lewis and will try to take tight end Kellen Winslow and wide receiver Braylon Edwards away from either Anderson or Quinn in pass defense. The Bengals' young secondary actually has played well, especially when considering the amount of time they have to stay in coverage because of the lack of a pass rush. Joseph is expected back this weekend.

The Bengals know this is a game they can win. They felt they should have defeated the Giants.

"At the end of the day, man, I just wish we would have won the game," said Bengals wide receiver T.J. Houshmandzadeh, who had 12 receptions, one touchdown and 146 receiving yards against the Giants. "We've got to get rolling and take one, starting with the Browns. I know they feel the same."

SERIES HISTORY: 70th meeting. The Bengals lead the "Battle of Ohio" series 35-34, having won six of the past seven. The teams split two games, each winning at home. The Bengals have a 22-13 edge in games played against the Browns in Cincinnati.

Author:Fox Sports
Author's Website:http://www.foxsports.com
Added: September 27, 2008

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