Two team with five wins respectively face off in Cincinnati on Thursday night. The 5-3 Browns go into Cincinnati winners of 4 of their last 5 games and one of the true surprise teams in the NFL at the halfway point. They were victorious last week at home against the Buccaneers even though it’s wasn’t the prettiest of performances. With the team trailing last place Tampa bay 17-16 when starting quarterback Brian Hoyer completed a 34 yard touchdown pass to undrafted free agent rookie Taylor Gabriel with a little under nine minutes left and the defense was able to make that lead stand up and they won 22-17. Hoyer finished the game 21-34 for 300 passing yards, 2 touchdowns and also 2 interceptions. He improved to 8-3 overall as a starter for the Browns and has managed to hold off the people calling for rookie first round draft pick Johnny Manziel to become the starter with his consistent play and the teams overall success. The formula for a successful offense in the NFL usually has some form of a running game incorporated into it. This makes the Browns a unique situation because except for one explosive week from expected starter Ben Tate the running game has been a revolving door of unsuccessful tailbacks. Rookie Terrence West was inactive for the last few weeks and ended up getting the most carries (15) and yards (48) for Browns runners on Sunday. They will need to put together a better running game in order to find their way into the playoffs.
The Bengals have had a true up and down season and come into the game with a 5-2-1 record. They are on a two game winning streak after beating Baltimore and Jacksonville in consecutive weeks. The running game had been very inconsistent with projected workhorse Giovanni Bernard who missed week 10 with an injury. This gave rookie second round pick Jeremy Hill a chance to shine and he took it and ran. He ran 24 times for 154 yards and 2 touchdowns in the Bengals 33-23 win over Jacksonville. The game also marked the return of injured star receiver A.J Green who caught 3 passes for 44 yards and a touchdown. Mohammed Sanu had 4 catches for 95 yards and a touchdown as well. The win makes this weeks game with the Browns a crucial one for both teams
This in state rivalry is sure to be intense in the bright lights of Thursday Night football. The Browns have not won a divisional road game since 2008 so this game could be a significant win. The Bengals may be without tackle Andre Smith who is questionable with a sprained ankle. Andrew Hawkins is a former Bengal who has quietly led the Browns in receiving. He will be looking to get revenge against his former team. Browns Tight End Jordan Cameron is also questionable as he continues to recover from a concussion.
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