THURSDAY NIGHT PREVIEW: CINCINNATI BENGALS AT CLEVELAND BROWNS

Week 2 of the 2020 NFL season gets underway on Thursday, September 17 (8:20 PM ET, NFL Network) as the Cleveland Browns host the Cincinnati Bengals in a celebration of the league’s 100th birthday. On August 20, 1920, RALPH HAY, the owner of the Canton Bulldogs, hosted a meeting at his Canton auto showroom to discuss the formation of a league – originally called the American Professional Football Association – with three other Ohio teams: the Dayton Triangles, Cleveland Indians and Akron Pros. At a second meeting held at the showroom on September 17, 1920, Pro Football Hall of Famer GEORGE HALAS, representing the Decatur Staleys (who became the CHICAGO BE​ARS in 1922), modeled a league-above-team perspective that shaped the genesis and longevity of the NFL for years to come.​​

The Week 2 matchup features the NFL’s two current Ohio teams, a tribute to the birthplace of the NFL in nearby Canton. Thursday’s game will be number 15,771 since the first kickoff in 1920, with the league featuring 78 franchises and 60 cities through its first century. Specifically, this will be the 94th meeting between Cleveland and Cincinnati, with the Bengals holding a 51-42 advantage in the series.

Last week, Cincinnati quarterback JOE BURROW, the No. 1 overall selection in the 2020 NFL Draft, became the second rookie quarterback in franchise history to start Week 1 (ANDY DALTON in 2011). At least one rookie quarterback has started in Week 1 in 13 consecutive seasons, the longest streak in the NFL since at least 1950. In his debut, Burrow passed for 193 yards and rushed for 46 yards and a touchdown in Cincinnati’s Week 1 loss, becoming the second quarterback to rush for at least 40 yards and a touchdown in his NFL debut since 1970 (KEVIN HOGAN in 2016).

Running back JOE MIXON totaled at least 175 yards and a rushing touchdown in both games against Cleveland last season and has 592 scrimmage yards (148 per game) in his past four games against the division. Wide receiver A.J. GREEN led the team with five catches for 51 yards last week after missing the 2019 season due to injury. His 8,958 career receiving yards rank as the fourth-most in the league since 2011. Defensive end CARLOS DUNLAP had 2.5 sacks and a forced fumble against Cleveland in their Week 17 meeting last season and his 12.5 career sacks against the Browns are his most vs. any opponent. Dunlap (81.5 career sacks) and defensive tackle GENO ATKINS (75.5) are the only pair of active teammates in the NFL each with at least 75 career sacks.

In four career games against the Bengals, Cleveland quarterback BAKER MAYFIELD has a 100.5 rating and 11 touchdowns (ten passing, one rushing), his most touchdown passes vs. any opponent. Running back NICK CHUBB, who led the AFC with 1,772 scrimmage yards in 2019, has recorded at least 115 scrimmage yards in three of four career games vs. the Bengals. Running back KAREEM HUNT led the team with 72 rushing yards in the Browns’ Week 1 loss and he has four touchdowns in three career games against Cincinnati. In three career games on Thursday Night Football, Hunt has 421 scrimmage yards (140.3 per game) and three touchdowns. Wide receivers JARVIS LANDRY (1,174 receiving yards) and ODELL BECHHAM JR. (1,035) were one of six pairs of teammates each with at least 1,000 receiving yards last season.

Thursday’s contest marks the first of seven games exclusively televised on NFL Network this season and will be produced by FOX. The game will feature Joe Buck, Pro Football Hall of Famer Troy Aikman, Erin Andrews and Kristina Pink on the call.

 

REGULAR SEASON HISTORY:

LEADER: Bengals lead all-time series, 51-42 STREAKS: Browns have won 3 of past 4 LAST GAME: 12/29/19: Browns 23 at Bengals 33 LAST GAME AT SITE: 12/8/19: Browns 27, Bengals 19

BENGALS NOTES:

QB JOE BURROW (rookie) completed 23 of 36 passes (63.9 pct.) for 193 yards & rushed for 46 yards & TD in NFL debut last week. Became 2nd QB to rush for 40+ yards & TD in NFL debut since 1970 (KEVIN HOGAN in 2016). • RB JOE MIXON rushed for 69 yards last week. Aims for his 3rd in row vs. Cle. with 175+ scrimmage yards & rush TD. Has 592 scrimmage yards (148 per game) & 3 rush TDs in his past 4 vs. division. Has TD in 3 of his past 4 on road. • WR A.J. GREEN led team with 5 catches for 51 yards last week. Has TD catch in 3 of his past 4 vs. Cle. Has 5 rec. TDs in his past 4 vs. division. Has 2+ rec. TDs in 2 of his past 3 in primetime. Has 8,907 career rec. yards, 4th-most in NFL since 2011. WR TYLER BOYD had 4 catches last week. Aims for his 4th in row vs. Cle. with 5+ catches. Aims for his 3rd in row on road with 75+ rec. yards. TE C.J. UZOMAH had 4 catches for 45 yards last week. Has TD catch in 2 of his past 3 vs. Cle. • DE CARLOS DUNLAP had 2.5 sacks, FF & PD in last meeting. Has 12.5 sacks in 17 career games vs. Cle., most vs. any opponent. Has sack in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Has 5 PD & 4 sacks in his past 4 on TNF. DT GENO ATKINS has 6.5 sacks in his past 4 on TNF. Dunlap (81.5) & Atkins are (75.5) only pair of active teammates each with 75+ career sacks. DE CARL LAWSON had sack last week. Has 3 sacks in his past 2 vs. Cle. LB JOSH BYNES had 8 tackles & sack last week. Aims for 3rd in row vs. Cle. with TFL. CB DARIUS PHILLIPS had career-high 2 INTs in last meeting.

BROWNS NOTES:

QB BAKER MAYFIELD passed for 189 yards & TD vs. INT last week. Has 11 TDs (10 pass, 1 rush) vs. 5 INTs for 100.5 rating in 4 career games vs. Cin., most TDs vs. any opponent. Has 2+ TD passes in 2 of his past 3 vs. division. Has 3 TDs (2 pass, 1 rush) vs. 0 INTs for 95.6 rating in 2 career games on TNF. • RB NICK CHUBB rushed for 60 yards last week. Has 402 scrimmage yards (100.5 per game) & 2 TDs in 4 career games vs. Cin. Has 90+ scrimmage yards in 6 of his past 7 at home. Has 520 scrimmage yards (104 per game) in his past 5 in primetime. RB KAREEM HUNT led team with 72 rush yards last week. Has 4 TDs (2 rush, 2 rec.) in 3 career games vs. Cin. Has 421 scrimmage yards (140.3 per game) & 3 TDs in 3 career games on TNF. Has TD in 5 of his past 6 in primetime. • WR JARVIS LANDRY led team with 5 catches for 61 yards last week. Had 82 rec. yards & TD catch in last meeting. Has 70+ rec. yards in 4 of his past 5 vs. division. WR ODELL BECKHAM JR. had TD catch in last meeting & has 80+ rec. yards & TD catch in 2 of 3 career games vs. Cin. TE AUSTIN HOOPER has rec. TD in 2 of his past 3 vs. AFC North. • DE MYLES GARRETT had TFL & FR last week. Has sack in 2 of 3 career games vs. Cin. Has 5 sacks in his past 4 in primetime. DE ADRIAN CLAYBORN had sack in Cle. debut last week. DT LARRY OGUNJOBI had 2nd-career FF last week. Has 4 sacks in 6 career games on TNF. CB DENZEL WARD aims for his 3rd in row vs. Cin. with INT. Has 5 PD in his past 3 vs. Cin.

 

BONUS GAME NOTES:

After Randy Bullock missed a potential game-tying field goal from 31 yards out in the final seconds, the Bengals lost to the Chargers in Week 1, 16-13. Prior to the miss, Bullock had made 44/46 (.957) of his field goals within 40 yards since joining Cincinnati, including each of his last 24 attempts.

The Browns lost by 32 points in Week 1 versus Baltimore, the team’s worst loss since the Bengals handed them a 34-point loss in Week 13 of 2015 (37-3). It was also the team’s largest loss to open the season since losing 43-0 to Pittsburgh back in 1999.

The Browns had lost each of their previous seven games against the Bengals by an average score of 30.4-9.0. Cleveland has since won three of the last four matchups, averaging 27.8 points during that span.

Back in Week 7 of 2016 in a win over the Browns, former Bengals’ running back Jeremy Hill ripped off a 74-yard rushing touchdown. Since then, the two longest rushing touchdowns for Cincinnati have been recorded by quarterbacks: a 27 yarder from Jeff Driskel (Week 10, 2018) and a 23 yarder from Joe Burrow (last week).

Baker Mayfield completed 33.3 percent of his passes (4/12) on third down in Week 1 which resulted in 62 yards and one interception. Since 2019, Mayfield’s 61.7 passer rating on third down is the fifth lowest in the NFL (minimum 50 attempts), and only one of the QBs below him played in Week 1 (Ryan Fitzpatrick).

In the history of matchups between quarterbacks selected No. 1 overall, the quarterback that was drafted most recently leads the series 127-86-2, including wins in five of the last six such matchups (only considers starts).