It was a good Bengals win last week, but now it's time to get ready for a trip to the Dog Pound in Cleveland. While it is evident there is not much bark or bite in the pound this year a few items should not be overlooked. The Bengals must put their foot on the neck of the Browns from the opening kickoff and leave it there the whole game. A talented kick & punt return man, a hungry QB with something to prove, and a desperate coach can always be dangerous.
The first order Sunday should be keeping Joshua Cribbs in check. The Bengals special teams can reduce the Browns scoring threat by 25-50% by not kicking or punting the ball to him. Fans have seen the Bengals get burned on special teams in the past and we don't want that achilles heal to return. Cribbs had a 67 yard punt return for a TD in the season opener against the Vikings but has been quiet the last few games. The Bengals will need to keep him silent this week as well. The Bengals rookie punter Kevin Huber will be tested this week with his ability to use his foot to neutralize Cribbs on punt returns.
The second potential threat for the Bengals is Derek Anderson at QB. If Eric Mangini names Anderson the starter for this week's game the Bengals defense could get an unexpected test. A week of getting 1st string reps coupled with having something to prove. What better motivation than to show the world, especially Browns fans, why he should be the starter in Cleveland. With Jamal Lewis coming back from an injury that kept him out last week the only hope the Browns have hinges on what they can do in the air. If Mangini is looking for a spark this week, it is evident that Anderson is his best hope at providing one. Quinn will only benefit by being benched and the Browns don't have anything to lose.
The Browns have their finger on the panic button already. Mangini's term in Cleveland could prove to be the shortest in Browns history if he can't get a grip on this team. Poor performances, embarrassing defeats, and an unruly locker room could leave Mangini begging Bill Belichick for a job by Christmas. After a big victory last week Bengal fans will get the opportunity to see if this team can stay focused. My bets are on Marvin Lewis finding a way to keep this team motivated en-route to a convincing victory on Sunday.