The Cincinnati Bengals host the Cleveland Browns in the 81st Battle of Ohio Sunday. It will be one of the more meaningful matchups between the two teams as the Bengals (6-4) try to cling to their division lead over the second place Browns (4-5), who have gained new life under quarterback Jason Campbell.
The Bengals return to Cincinnati after two straight overtime losses away from Paul Brown Stadium. The consecutive losses coincided with the decline in play of quarterback Andy Dalton, who only threw two touchdowns opposed to six interceptions.
The Browns, meanwhile, have faced a quarterback conundrum all year. They are 0-4 when Brandon Weeden starts, and 4-1 when Brian Hoyer or Jason Campbell are unders center.
Campbell (five touchdowns, zero interceptions, 561 yards) will get the call against the Bengals and his steady play fits well with Cleveland’s defensive identity. The nine-year veteran has not turned the ball over this year, and with a running game that has been nearly non-existent, Campbell and the offense are simply expected to minimize mistakes.
The week 11 matchup of AFC North rivals figures to be a hard fought battle between two of the top defenses in the league. The Bengals are ranked fourth in overall defense, allowing 311.4 yards a game. The Browns are ranked fifth, giving up 315.7 yards a game.
A big part of Cleveland’s success on defense can be attributed to stellar cornerback Joe Haden, who limited Cincinnati wide receiver A.J. Green to 51 yards on seven catches in their week four matchup.
If the Browns can pull off the upset, they will be just one game off the division lead, and with the Bengals’ recent rash of injuries, there is reason to believe Cincinnati will continue to falter down the stretch. But with a Bengals win, they will be two games ahead of the Browns as they head into their bye week, which could serve as a good opportunity for the team to regroup from their recent decline.
Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. in Cincinnati.