CINCINNATI (4-3) at CLEVELAND (2-5)
Monday, 8:15 p.m. EDT, ESPN
OPENING LINE: Bengals by 3, according to FanDuel Sportsbook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals 5-2; Browns 2-5.
SERIES RECORD: Bengals 51-46.
LAST MEETING: Browns beat Bengals 21-6, on Jan. 9 in Cleveland.
LAST WEEK: Bengals beat Falcons 35-17; Browns lost to Ravens 23-20.
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (28), PASS (5), SCORING (8).
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (11), RUSH (19), PASS (9), SCORING (7T).
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (6) RUSH (3), PASS (22), SCORING (10).
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (16), RUSH (24), PASS (14), SCORING (28T).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Bengals even; Browns minus-4.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: RB Joe Mixon. With star wide receiver Ja'Marr Chase expected to miss a few games with a hip injury, the Bengals may have to be more reliant on their running game. Mixon has yet to have a 100-yard game this season, but he's had some big ones in the past against Cleveland, including a 162-yard performance in 2019.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: WR Amari Cooper. He's become QB Jacoby Brissett's comfort blanket, the go-to target when a big play is needed. Last week, they hooked up on a 55-yard reception, the Browns' longest play this season. This will be Cooper's first foray in the Cincinnati-Cleveland rivalry.
KEY MATCHUP: Bengals WRs Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd vs. Cleveland's defensive backs. Chase's absence puts more pressure on Cincinnati's other wideouts to produce. The Browns could be without Denzel Ward, who has missed the past two games with a concussion.
INJURIES: Chase's injury is a big blow to the defending AFC champions. He's been catching everything QB Joe Burrow throws his way and was coming off a two-TD performance last weekend. ... DE Trey Hendrickson’s status is unclear after leaving Sunday with a neck stinger. ... Bengals CB Eli Apple (hamstring) didn't practice on Friday after being limited earlier in the week. ... Bengals LB Logan Wilson (shoulder) may return after sitting out last week. ... Browns TE David Njoku (sprained ankle) went out in the second half last week. He's improved, but will likely sit out with a bye approaching. ... Browns LB Jacob Phillips sustained a season-ending pectoral injury last week. He had replaced Anthony Walker Jr. (quadriceps) as the team's signal-caller. ... Browns LF Wyatt Teller (strained calf) could miss his second straight game. ... Browns TE Pharaoh Brown sustained a concussion last week.
SERIES NOTES: The Browns have won seven of the past eight games in the “Battle of Ohio.” ... Cleveland has swept the season series the past two years. ... This is the third Monday night meeting between the AFC North rivals and first since 1990. ... The Browns are 11-11 at home on Monday nights. ... Burrow is 0-3 against the Browns. He sat out last year's visit to Cleveland as the Bengals rested starters before the playoffs.
STATS AND STUFF: After losing their first two games, the Bengals have won four of five. ... QB Joe Burrow was the AFC Offensive Player of the Week after completing 34 of 42 passes for 481 yards and three TDs. It was the second-best game of his three-year career. ... Burrow surpassed 9,000 yards passing against Atlanta in his 33rd game. That made him tied for the fifth-fastest quarterback in history to reach the plateau. ... Boyd got his 417th reception last week, tying him with WR Cris Collinsworth for fifth place in team history. ... On the Bengals' most recent appearance on “Monday Night Football,” they beat the Pittsburgh Steelers 27-17 at home on Dec. 21, 2020. ... The Browns have lost four straight and are 4-10 since last season. ... It's a critical division game for Cleveland, which needs a win to stop playoff hopes from fading further. ... Brissett bounced back from a three-turnover performance with one of his best games last week, completing 22 of 27 passes for 258 yards. Brissett did fumble on a strip-sack. ... RB Nick Chubb leads the NFL with 740 yards rushing, but he's not getting enough carries to satisfy some Cleveland fans who want him to get the ball every play. He had 16 attempts last weekend, 12 the week before. ... Chubb's yardage total is the team's highest through seven games since Hall of Famer Jim Brown's 777 in 1965. ... DE Myles Garrett had one sack last week, giving him six this season. Garrett is one of four players to have at least six sacks in each of the past six seasons. ... Cleveland's special teams had two major breakdowns last week, giving up a 46-yard punt return and getting a field goal blocked in the final minutes. ... The Browns' maligned defense had its best game last week led by LB Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah, who had six tackles, two pass breakups and forced a fumble. ... The Browns will honor former CB Joe Haden, who was drafted by the team in 2010. A three-time Pro Bowler, Haden will sign a one-day contract to retire with Cleveland. He played for the Steelers after the Browns released him in 2018. ... The Browns have their bye next week.
FANTASY TIP: Chubb has averaged 94.6 yards in seven career games against the Bengals with five rushing TDs, one receiving. After a sluggish start last weekend, Chubb picked it up after halftime as coach Kevin Stefanski called his number more often. If the Browns aren't down by double digits, that could be the formula again.
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