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Recent posts by Mike Wilkening
Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Bengals game:
Bengals WRs Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco vs. Browns CBs Joe Haden, Sheldon Brown and Eric Wright
The Browns set out to take away Ochocinco with double-teams in the first meeting between the teams in Week Four, and they succeeded somewhat, but in the process, Owens absolutely shredded them, catching 10 passes for 222 yards. QB Carson Palmer, knowing a good thing when he saw it, targeted Owens 15 times.
Owens, who turned 37 on Dec. 7, still can stretch the field vertically, and he ran by Brown for a 78-yard TD in Week Four. The Browns blitzed on the play, leaving Brown one-on-one, and Owens won the battle decisively. Brown wasn't the only Browns corner to struggle with T.O.; Wright and Haden also surrendered catches to him.
Ochocinco was targeted just five times in the first meeting, catching three passes for 59 yards. He decisively beat Wright for a 42-yard gain in a one-on-one matchup.
The athletic Haden, who has had an impressive rookie season, has replaced Wright in the base defense. Haden has very good ball skills and has transitioned smoothly from reserve to starter. Wright will cover the slot in three-WR sets.
How the Browns fare against the Bengals' star wideouts will go a long way in determining whether they can sweep the season series for the first time since 2002. Will Cleveland stick to the same blueprint, or will they focus more attention on Owens? Note that Owens (knee) and Ochocinco (ankle) missed some practice time this week.