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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
I have seen worse 0-3 teams than the Browns. As I've said before, last year's Browns were in far worse shape. That team had two struggling quarterbacks and a worse defense than this team. This club has two passers it can trust in Jake Delhomme, who could be a game-time decision with an ankle injury, and Seneca Wallace.
And this Browns' defense has the ability to frustrate Bengals QB Carson Palmer, who was off his game in the win at Carolina in Week Three, throwing a pair of picks. I believe Browns defensive coordinator Rob Ryan when he says he's not "going to turn into a wimp all of a sudden" because the Browns' blitzes have been beaten in some key spots this season. I'm expecting Cleveland to dial up the pressure. The Bengals' passing game is wobbly, and the Browns, at 0-3, have nothing to lose, really.
But do they have enough to beat the Bengals? Cincinnati has more talent on offense than it had a season ago and another strong, well-coached defense. Their special-teams coverage units are young, so that's an edge for Cleveland, assuming Joshua Cribbs can actually field a punt or kickoff or two, which is no given considering that teams have done a pretty good job limiting his optimal return chances this year.
If the Browns make a few big plays, perhaps they get the Bengals on their heels. Cincinnati has spent this week hearing more about what it's doing wrong on offense than what it's doing right in the other facets of the game. Is there any chance the Bengals, who have everything to lose if they drop a divisional game to an in-state rival they are favored to beat, are tight?
Perhaps. In the end, though, the Bengals should be able to prevail. They can play the physical, control-the-clock game like the Browns prefer, and better.
Prediction: Bengals 20, Browns 17