Here's a matchup to watch in Sunday's Browns-Bengals game.
Browns QB Colt McCoy and Cleveland's pass protection vs. the Bengals' pass rush
In his one start vs. Cincinnati in 2010, McCoy completed 19-of-25 passes for 243 yards with a pair of TDs, but the Browns fell, 19-17, and it wasn't all positive for the quarterback and his offense. McCoy was sacked four times, and the Browns converted just 2-of-8 third downs. Also, the Browns, after scoring a TD on their first drive, didn't find the endzone again until 2:13 left.
All four of Cincinnati's sacks came from defensive linemen. DLE Carlos Dunlap had two sacks, including one that pushed Cleveland back eight yards as the Browns entered field goal range late in the second quarter. Dunlap figures to again contribute in pass-rush situations on Sunday, and containing him will be key. Also, DTs Geno Atkins and Pat Sims (one sack apiece vs. Cleveland in Week 15) can get a push up the middle, too.
McCoy sometimes had a tendency to hold onto the ball a touch too long last season. With starting Browns ORT Tony Pashos (ankle) doubtful and a rookie, Jason Pinkston, slated to start at left guard, can the Bengals get consistent pressure and throw the Browns' offense off-schedule? And will defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer dial up some bold blitzes? A strong pass rush would give the underdog Bengals a boost on Sunday.