This has all the makings of a trap game. The Bengals are clearly favored over Cleveland in the eyes off the odds makers as they currently hold an 11 point spread. This is also a primetime game and the curse of those games has generated water cooler conversations anytime talk of the Bengals arises. So what does Cincinnati need to do to keep the undefeated streak alive?
Don't believe the curse
I wash my socks. If you don't get that reference, it goes back to the superstition of baseball players that would refuse to wash their socks when on a winning streak. I don't believe in that crap and the Bengals shouldn't either. There are no such things as curses. The Bengals can prove that with a win on Thursday night. Some may call for a dominating win or a statement game, but a simple win is good enough for a division game on the national stage.
Run the football
Last week the Bengals didn't call many run plays. This was probably by design as the Steelers perceived weakness was in the passing game. The Browns on the other hand rank dead last against the run in the NFL. This week should give the Bengals running backs plenty of possibilities to pad their stats. Add to that the fact that right tackle Andre Smith will miss the game and you can make it easier on a replacement tackle by running the football.
Control Gary Barnidge
Good tight ends are a problem for most teams and the Bengals have shown they have issues covering them. The Browns have a solid tight end in Barnidge who already has 567 yards receiving and 6 touchdowns this season. This may be the biggest threat on offense from the Cleveland side and the Bengals are going to want to know where he is on the field at all times.
Control the emotion of the young Browns
At no point do you want to see Johnny Manziel running down the field with his hands in the air. The Bengals don't want busted plays turning into big moments for the kid trying to redeem himself on the national stage. The last time Manziel faced the Bengals he was pummeled the entire game as Cincinnati railed the Browns. He is going to want revenge and has just enough raw, physical ability to be dangerous. The Bengals need to hit him and tackle when they have the chance.
This seems simple, right? The team with the higher score wins? Really, we want the Bengals to cruise to a comfortable victory. It doesn't have to be a blowout, but we don't want the Browns to think some late game heroics can win it for them. The Bengals are the better team and that should be reflected in the final score. The path to getting there should leave no doubt that the Bengals were in control for the entire 60 minutes.
The game is a sellout. The secondary market has ticket prices very high which is a telling sign that the jungle is going to be rocking. The Bengals will feed off the crowd and cruise to a victory. WhoDey.