1:00 PM ET, November 27, 2011
Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
If quarterback Andy Dalton can add to his solid rookie campaign, the Bengals might continue that mastery of their rivals Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
Cincinnati's season-opening 27-17 win in Cleveland on Sept. 11 was its 11th in 14 matchups with the Browns. The Bengals (6-4) have also prevailed in six of seven home meetings, and enter this one having fallen just short during consecutive seven-point defeats.
Dalton was intercepted at Pittsburgh's 19-yard line late in the fourth quarter of a 24-17 loss Nov. 13, and Cincinnati couldn't get past Baltimore's 7-yard line on its final drive during last week's 31-24 defeat.
That loss dropped the Bengals a game behind the Steelers and Ravens in the AFC North.
Dalton finished with a career-best 373 yards against Baltimore. He also recorded his 15th touchdown pass, joining Peyton Manning and Dan Marino as the only rookies to accomplish that feat in 10 games since the 1970 AFL-NFL merger.
Dalton, though, was also picked off a career-worst three times after throwing two interceptions the previous week.
"Three mistakes and all three of them I can live with," offensive coordinator Jay Gruden told the Bengals' official website. "He did a great job. For the most part having to come from behind and throw (a career-high 45) times ... he kept us in it."
Dalton missed the second half of the season opener against Cleveland (4-6) after injuring his right wrist and his replacement, Bruce Gradkowski, threw a go-ahead 41-yard touchdown pass to A.J. Green with 4:28 left.
The Bengals' leading receiver, however, has missed the past six quarters with a hyperextended right knee.
"I hope I can be back this week," Green said.
Dalton might need Green's help as he faces a Cleveland defense that's giving up a league-low 166.5 passing yards per game and is fifth with an average of 305.8 total yards allowed.
That hasn't translated to too many wins for the Browns because of an offense that ranks near the bottom in the league with averages of 14.5 points and 298.1 yards.
Cleveland, though, managed to end a season-high three-game skid last week by topping Jacksonville 14-10. The Browns scored two touchdowns for the first time in five weeks and held the Jaguars at the 1-yard line over the game's final two plays.
Cleveland is 3-1 in games that have been decided by four points or fewer.
"I like suspense," right tackle Tony Pashos said. "But man, this is a little too much."
Hillis, who has missed six straight games with a hamstring injury, practiced Friday for the first time in three weeks. Hardesty has sat out the past three contests with an injured calf.
Chris Ogbonnaya ran for a career-high 115 yards last week.
"I think Chris has been very productive. He's done things for our team that will warrant him playing, at least some, when our other guys come back," coach Pat Shurmur said. "We'll just see how it goes when they come back. I'm not concerned about that. That's a good problem to have, when you have a line of guys that you feel good about."
Hillis had a team-best 57 yards on 17 carries in the opener against the Bengals, while Cedric Benson rushed for 121 and a touchdown for Cincinnati. Benson has yet to top that total in his eight subsequent games and has failed to surpass 78 in each of his last five.
Benson, though, might have a chance at an improved performance this week. He ran for 150 yards during a 19-17 home win over the Browns on Dec. 19 and had 171 during a 14-0 victory in Cleveland in 2008.
Cleveland's Colt McCoy, who has posted a 72.5 completion percentage over the past two games, connected on a career-best 76.0 percent of his attempts (19 of 25) during his only start in Cincinnati last December.
McCoy, though, was 19 of 40 against the Bengals in September while throwing two touchdowns and an interception.
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|Avg Points Allowed||19.6||19.5|
Team Averages & NFL Ranks
|TEAM OFFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|TEAM DEFENSE||TEAM||PER GAME AVERAGE|
|Pass Yds Allowed||CLE|
|Rush Yds Allowed||CLE|
Head to Head Matchups (Since 2001)
|Cincinnati leads 14-8|
|Sep 11, 2011||CLE 17, CIN 27|
|Dec 19, 2010||CLE 17, @CIN 19|
|Oct 3, 2010||CLE 23, CIN 20|
|Nov 29, 2009||CLE 7, @CIN 16|
|Oct 4, 2009||CLE 20, CIN 23|
|Dec 21, 2008||CLE 0, CIN 14|
|Sep 28, 2008||CLE 20, @CIN 12|
|Dec 23, 2007||CLE 14, @CIN 19|
|Sep 16, 2007||CLE 51, CIN 45|
|Nov 26, 2006||CLE 0, CIN 30|
|Sep 17, 2006||CLE 17, @CIN 34|
|Dec 11, 2005||CLE 20, @CIN 23|
|Sep 11, 2005||CLE 13, CIN 27|
|Nov 28, 2004||CLE 48, @CIN 58|
|Oct 17, 2004||CLE 34, CIN 17|
|Dec 28, 2003||CLE 22, @CIN 14|
|Sep 28, 2003||CLE 14, CIN 21|
|Nov 17, 2002||CLE 27, @CIN 20|
|Sep 15, 2002||CLE 20, CIN 7|
|Nov 25, 2001||CLE 18, CIN 0|
|Oct 14, 2001||CLE 14, @CIN 24|