Thursday night football is coming again. This week, the Cleveland Browns travel to Cincinnati for a major rivalry game. The Bengals are currently undefeated. The Browns, with two wins, would love nothing more to give Cincinnati their first loss at home. This is a Cincinnati team that has been better this year than ever in recent history. They've faced adversity and thrived. They managed to overcome their recent struggles against Pittsburgh to win in week 8. However, one place where Cincinnati has consistently struggled under Marvin Lewis is in prime time situations. How bad have the Bengals and Marvin Lewis been in prime time? Most of the time, pretty bad. Take a look at what happened the last time the Bengals faced the Browns on Thursday night (film here). Phew. That was ugly. Are this year's Bengals different, or will the struggles remain the same?
One thing is for sure. Cincinnati is the healthier team this week. Cleveland will be missing many key starters, including quarterback Josh McCown and former Bengal Andrew Hawkins. Johnny Manziel will be starting against Cincinnati this Thursday night. Does anyone remember Manziel's first career start, also against the Bengals? That was a pretty ugly game too. If Cincinnati is going to change their streak of post-season losses, they need to make a statement in prime time games over the next three weeks. This is a Cleveland team that they should, by pretty much all predictable factors, beat. The question is, is Cincinnati ready to take the next step and win in prime time, or are these the same old Bungles?
I'm actually going to pick the Bengals to win this game (and set myself up for a potential disappointment). Cleveland would love nothing more than to give Cincinnati their first loss on national television, and Cincinnati has historically struggled on nationally televised games in prime time. However, these aren't the same old Bengals. They've come from behind and won after facing adversity. They've overcome mental blocks and mistakes to beat good football teams. They've pulled together as a unit where, in the past, they have struggled under head coach Marvin Lewis. This is a team that had its worst game of the season last week.....and still managed to win. They face a Cleveland Browns team reeling with injuries. Cleveland should make this a very close game, but Cincinnati has the talent to win this game. However, are they ready to dominate in prime time? We'll find out soon, but I think the answer is YES. final score: Cincinnati Bengals 27, Cleveland Browns 24. --Mike B. (75-44)
Bengals win 34 - 20 over the Browns: I just think this is easily one of the best teams in the NFL coming into a game at home against one of the worst teams in the NFL.
--- Matt Koontz (75-44)
Bengals 28 - Browns 17
-- Jared M