With flak flying back home, Browns visit struggling Bengals


By MITCH STACY - AP Sports Writer



Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


Cincinnati Bengals' Giovani Bernard celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)


By The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (4-2) at CINCINNATI (1-4-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS

OPENING LINE - Browns by 3 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD - Browns 3-3; Bengals 5-1

SERIES RECORD - Bengals lead 51-43

LAST MEETING - Browns beat Bengals 35-30 on Sept. 17 at Cleveland

LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Browns lost to Steelers 38-7; Bengals lost to Colts 31-27

AP PRO32 RANKING - Browns No. 10, Bengals No. 24.

BROWNS OFFENSE - OVERALL (19), RUSH (1), PASS (29).

BROWNS DEFENSE - OVERALL (19), RUSH (4), PASS (27).

BENGALS OFFENSE - OVERALL (25), RUSH (24), PASS (T-18).

BENGALS DEFENSE - OVERALL (25), RUSH (27), PASS (22).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — The Bengals have won nine of the last 14 games in the series, but the Browns have won four of the last five. The teams split their divisional series last season. … Since the Browns’ rebirth in 1999, the Bengals lead the series 27-16. … Cleveland has produced points in 19 of its 20 trips to the red zone. Cincinnati has been nearly as good, scoring on 15 of 17 trips. … The Browns are looking for their ninth season sweep of Cincinnati. They rushed for 215 yards against the Bengals last month, but FB Andy Janovich said “we could have had 300 or 400 yards if we wanted,” a comment Cincinnati’s defense likely remembered. … Browns first-year coach Kevin Stefanski’s start is the best since Butch Davis opened the 2001 season at 4-2. … Cleveland DE Myles Garrett has a sack in five consecutive games and leads the AFC with seven sacks. He got one of his three strip-sacks on Bengals QB Joe Burrow in the first matchup. … The Browns got a little healthier this week with safeties Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring) returning from injuries. They are expected to play. … WR Odell Beckham Jr. blamed a sideline outburst last week to being pulled early from the game and his frustration in losing. Beckham also revealed he’s been dealing with a sore toe. … Bengals DT tackle Mike Daniels (elbow) has been cleared to practice and may be available Sunday. … With 82 1-2 career sacks, Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap is one shy of the franchise lead (Eddie Edwards). DT Geno Atkins is only six behind Dunlap, but both have seen their playing time reduced recently. … Bengals WR A,J. Green has 65 receptions for 982 yards and seven TDs in 14 games against the Browns. Green is fifth on the Bengals’ list of all-time games played. The team is 38-7 when he scores a TD. … The Bengals are 10 of 11 converting fourth downs, fourth best in the NFL. … Cincinnati WR Tyler Boyd has 27 catches for first downs, fourth best in the league. … Burrow has four games with 300-plus passing yards and is among the NFL’s top 10 with more than 1,600. He’s first in the league in attempts (246) and second in completions (160). … Burrow attempted 61 passes against Cleveland in Week 2, completing 37 for a season-high 316 yards. … Burrow has been sacked 24 times, second most in the NFL. … Cincinnati RB Giovani Bernard has a string of 764 rushes without a fumble. … K Randy Bullock is the second-most accurate kicker in Bengals history, behind Shayne Graham. He’s made 86.6% of his FGs in five seasons. … Fantasy tip: This could be a big week for Browns RB Kareem Hunt, who ran for 86 yards on 10 carries against the Bengals the first time and figures to get more work with Nick Chubb (knee) out.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

COLUMBUS, Ohio (AP) — The Bengals keep insisting they are better than their dismal record. The Browns’ crash in Pittsburgh last week showed they might not be as good as they thought.

The rematch of the AFC North rivals on Sunday in Cincinnati could provide more clarity.

The Browns (4-2) are smarting after a 38-7 pummeling by the Steelers. Quarterback Baker Mayfield, the first overall draft pick in 2018, has sore ribs and faced another barrage of criticism from all sides this week that he can’t rise to the occasion in big games.

Meanwhile, the Bengals (1-4-1) let another close one get away, losing to Indianapolis 31-27 as rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, the first overall pick this year, turned in another gutsy performance that just wasn’t enough. He threw an interception with 46 seconds left in the game as Cincinnati was driving for what could have been the go-ahead score.

“We’re not panicking,” Burrow said this week. “We could easily be 4-2 right now. One or two plays made in each of these games and we’re right in the playoff hunt. We know how close we are.”

The Bengals will not have top runner Joe Mixon, who has been ruled out of Sunday’s game. Expect Gio Bernard to get the bulk of the work in the backfield.

Both teams desperately need a win in the Battle of Ohio for their confidence. In their first meeting in Week 2, the Browns won 35-30 as Burrow attempted 61 passes — the second most by a rookie in NFL history— completing 37 for 316 yards and three touchdowns.

Without a doubt Burrow has gotten more comfortable with the pro game since then, although his offensive line and Cincinnati’s injury-plagued defense have been lacking.

The Pittsburgh debacle left Mayfield, recognized more for his national TV commercials than dependable play, aching and watching the fourth quarter from the sideline while mercurial receiver Odell Beckham Jr. threw a temper tantrum. Mayfield was sacked four times and intercepted twice in the game.

BACKING BAKER

Mayfield’s shaky performances in the last two games — four interceptions in five quarters — has generated a lot of outside noise. But the Browns are rallying around the 25-year-old, who is 16-19 as a starter and playing for his fourth head coach in three years. “This is not about any one person, center JC Tretter said. ”We all have to play better and raise our level.” Said Beckham: “I have Baker’s back.”

“I don’t give a damn what (the critics) say,” Mayfield said. “It is within this building. We know we can do better.

CLOSE BUT NOT ENOUGH

The Bengals have gotten agonizingly close to winning, only to be done in by their inability to shut the door. Last Sunday they led 21-0 in the second quarter but allowed Philip Rivers and the Colts to rally. In Week 3, Cincinnati had to settle for a tie with the Philadelphia Eagles after giving up a late touchdown. And three of the other four losses were by a combined 12 points.

GROUND AND POUND

Even without injured Pro Bowl running back Nick Chubb, the Browns have stayed atop the league in rushing yardage. Cleveland’s averaging 169.5 yards per game, and unless the Bengals have plugged some holes since the team’s first meeting, that number could rise.

The Browns rushed for 215 yards in their win last month over Cincinnati, and fullback Andy Janovich bragged they could have gotten “300 or 400, if we wanted.” Kareem Hunt picked up 86 yards on 10 carries against the Bengals last time, and he figures to get a heavy workload this time with Chubb still recovering from a sprained knee.

UNHAPPY VETERANS

Veteran sack specialists Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap have expressed displeasure over their reduced roles in the Bengals’ defense. The 32-year-old Atkins missed the first four games of the season with a shoulder injury. Although he’s back, his playing time has been limited.

The 31-year-old Dunlap was dropped from the starting lineup earlier this season and publicly criticized coaches. Both are seeing fewer snaps even as the personnel on Cincinnati’s defensive front keeps changing because of injuries.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL

___

Follow Mitch Stacy at http://twitter.com/mitchtacy

Cincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/10/web1_125672803-99504d3373594993a89ffcff9c06062d.jpgCincinnati Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow (9) celebrates after rushing for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Cincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/10/web1_125672803-b711eb506a2d401dad755f2a51153d48.jpgCincinnati Bengals head coach Zac Taylor looks on during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

Cincinnati Bengals’ Giovani Bernard celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)
https://www.wnewsj.com/wp-content/uploads/sites/22/2020/10/web1_125672803-c7916976540f4a18994bd0078c218947.jpgCincinnati Bengals’ Giovani Bernard celebrates after running for a touchdown during the first half of an NFL football game against the Indianapolis Colts, Sunday, Oct. 18, 2020, in Indianapolis. (AP Photo/AJ Mast)

By MITCH STACY

AP Sports Writer

By The Associated Press

CLEVELAND (4-2) at CINCINNATI (1-4-1)

Sunday, 1 p.m. EDT, CBS

OPENING LINE – Browns by 3 1/2

RECORD VS. SPREAD – Browns 3-3; Bengals 5-1

SERIES RECORD – Bengals lead 51-43

LAST MEETING – Browns beat Bengals 35-30 on Sept. 17 at Cleveland

LAST WEEK’S RESULT: Browns lost to Steelers 38-7; Bengals lost to Colts 31-27

AP PRO32 RANKING – Browns No. 10, Bengals No. 24.

BROWNS OFFENSE – OVERALL (19), RUSH (1), PASS (29).

BROWNS DEFENSE – OVERALL (19), RUSH (4), PASS (27).

BENGALS OFFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (24), PASS (T-18).

BENGALS DEFENSE – OVERALL (25), RUSH (27), PASS (22).

STREAKS, STATS AND NOTES — The Bengals have won nine of the last 14 games in the series, but the Browns have won four of the last five. The teams split their divisional series last season. … Since the Browns’ rebirth in 1999, the Bengals lead the series 27-16. … Cleveland has produced points in 19 of its 20 trips to the red zone. Cincinnati has been nearly as good, scoring on 15 of 17 trips. … The Browns are looking for their ninth season sweep of Cincinnati. They rushed for 215 yards against the Bengals last month, but FB Andy Janovich said “we could have had 300 or 400 yards if we wanted,” a comment Cincinnati’s defense likely remembered. … Browns first-year coach Kevin Stefanski’s start is the best since Butch Davis opened the 2001 season at 4-2. … Cleveland DE Myles Garrett has a sack in five consecutive games and leads the AFC with seven sacks. He got one of his three strip-sacks on Bengals QB Joe Burrow in the first matchup. … The Browns got a little healthier this week with safeties Ronnie Harrison (concussion) and Karl Joseph (hamstring) returning from injuries. They are expected to play. … WR Odell Beckham Jr. blamed a sideline outburst last week to being pulled early from the game and his frustration in losing. Beckham also revealed he’s been dealing with a sore toe. … Bengals DT tackle Mike Daniels (elbow) has been cleared to practice and may be available Sunday. … With 82 1-2 career sacks, Bengals DE Carlos Dunlap is one shy of the franchise lead (Eddie Edwards). DT Geno Atkins is only six behind Dunlap, but both have seen their playing time reduced recently. … Bengals WR A,J. Green has 65 receptions for 982 yards and seven TDs in 14 games against the Browns. Green is fifth on the Bengals’ list of all-time games played. The team is 38-7 when he scores a TD. … The Bengals are 10 of 11 converting fourth downs, fourth best in the NFL. … Cincinnati WR Tyler Boyd has 27 catches for first downs, fourth best in the league. … Burrow has four games with 300-plus passing yards and is among the NFL’s top 10 with more than 1,600. He’s first in the league in attempts (246) and second in completions (160). … Burrow attempted 61 passes against Cleveland in Week 2, completing 37 for a season-high 316 yards. … Burrow has been sacked 24 times, second most in the NFL. … Cincinnati RB Giovani Bernard has a string of 764 rushes without a fumble. … K Randy Bullock is the second-most accurate kicker in Bengals history, behind Shayne Graham. He’s made 86.6% of his FGs in five seasons. … Fantasy tip: This could be a big week for Browns RB Kareem Hunt, who ran for 86 yards on 10 carries against the Bengals the first time and figures to get more work with Nick Chubb (knee) out.

___

More AP NFL: https://apnews.com/NFL and https://twitter.com/AP_NFL