NFL News - September 29th, 2009 - Written by John
Bengals at Browns -- ProFootballTalk typically does a good job of putting a lighter spin on an abomination of a situation. Like when dealing with the Cleveland Browns quarterbacking issue. Sure, they haven't scored an offensive touchdown in nine games, but the news outlet does point out one slight advantage for the Browns. After benching Brady Quinn in the second half and watching back-up throw pop flies to the Ravens' secondary, it is perfectly unclear who coach Eric Mangini will go with for Sunday's game against the Bengals. Usually that creates problems in planning for the opposing teams, who therefore need to practice for two different scenarios.
Then again, this is the Browns were talking about. And again, they haven't scored an offensive touchdown in nine games.
BetUS has Cincinnati as 5 1/2-point favorites in Cleveland with a 38 1/2-point over/under in the early lines.
This may seem like an obvious pick after the Bengals shocked the reigning Super Bowl champs last week. And if history repeats itself, Cincinnati will probably only have to score 15 points at-most to clear.
But all of their games have been decided by seven points or less and the Bengals haven't been able to pull away from any of their opponents. They should be 3-0 of not for Brandon Stokley accidentally being in the right place to steal the opener in Denver. As it stands, they still are the leading candidate to challenge division leader, Baltimore, and another division win would put them in the driver's seat to stay there.
Carson Palmer seems to be injury-free after a whirlwind '08 season. And the offense has been revived as a result. He guided the Bengals to comeback wins over Green Bay and Pittsburgh, throwing a combined four touchdowns with only two picks. He even helped Chad Ochocinco deliver on his promise of doing the Lambeau Leap.
Running back Cedric Benson seems to have benefited from having a competent quarterback and has become a welcome surprise in the backfield. Reviving his career from a forgettable stint in Chicago, the former first-round pick has run for 404 yards in his last four games, dating back to last year. He rushed for 141 yards in Week Two, the second highest total of his career.
Meanwhile, there are clamors in Cleveland to pick up the wildcat offense at a higher consistency, using specialist Josh Cribbs as the feature back. He has at least 120 total yards in each of the first three games and has one of only two Browns touchdowns this year via punt return.
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