After two weeks on the road, the Cleveland Browns return home to FirstEnergy Stadium to host the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals Sunday.
In playing the Bengals, the Browns face a “challenging” team that is tied for first place in the division with the Baltimore Ravens and coming off an emotional, 34-30, come-from-behind victory over the Green Bay Packers. The Bengals held a 14-point lead in the game, gave up 30 unanswered and then, scored 20 in the game’s final two quarters for the victory.
“This is a tremendous challenge for us,” Browns coach Rob Chudzinski said. “I expect our guys to be ready and respond to the challenge because we’ll need to be at our best as a team for this game.
“We’re back to work this week, back at home, back in the division against an outstanding team. They’re extremely talented, well-coached. I have a lot of respect for Coach (Marvin) Lewis. They’re well-coached in all three phases. They’ve won a couple in a row. They had a huge win this past Sunday.”
In the film study of the Bengals the Browns’ coaches have done over the last three days, Chudzinski said it all starts with quarterback Andy Dalton.
Dalton completed 71 of 106 attempts for 797 yards and five touchdowns against three interceptions. He has completed passes to seven different players -- including wide receivers A.J. Green, Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu, tight ends Jermaine Gresham and Tyler Eifert, and running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard -- and has been sacked only five times for 25 lost yards in three games.
“He’s done a great job at managing the game, as well as making plays,” Chudzinski said. “They have a solid offensive line, two very good runners that complement each other, and they’re loaded at the skill positions.
“Everybody knows about A.J. Green and what kind of player he is. They have a good wide-receiver group and they play a lot with two very good tight ends in Gresham and Eifert. It will be a real challenge for our defense this week.”
Defensively, the Bengals have registered six sacks for 44 lost yards, and allowed 1,000 yards of total offense combined between the Chicago Bears, Pittsburgh Steelers and Packers.
“They have an excellent scheme,” Chudzinski said. “Their personnel is outstanding. It sounds like a broken record every week, but the front four is excellent outside with (Michael) Johnson and (Carlos) Dunlap, and then, inside with (Geno) Atkins and (Domata) Peko.
“They have an active group of linebackers. They’ve had some injuries with their secondary, but they’re deep there. We’ll see where Leon Hall is this week, but they have Pacman (Adam Jones) and Terence Newman. He made the big play in last week’s game for them, and (Reggie) Nelson is playing great at the safety position.”
STOUT RUN D
After allowing the Miami Dolphins and Baltimore Ravens to rush for only 119 yards in the first two weeks, the Browns held the reigning NFL MVP, Minnesota running back Adrian Peterson, to 88 yards and one touchdown on 25 carries.
By holding Peterson under 100 yards, the Browns continue to build their reputation against the run.
“It always solidifies your thoughts when see that, but I’ve had that kind of confidence in that group up front, and from a scheme standpoint, with what we’re doing with the running game,” Chudzinski said. “It’s not a surprise to me that we’ve been able to be that effective.”
According to Chudzinski, Weeden is “making progress” and should start throwing again by the end of the week.
“He won’t work out today, but as the week progresses, we’ll see how it goes,” Chudzinski said. “We’ll just see how Billy progresses as the week goes on. We have a plan, and we’ll be okay there. (Punter)