Blood, sweat, and tears—mostly tears—have all been spent by Who Dey Nation as the 2019 regular season comes to a close. The Cincinnati Bengals are guaranteed the No. 1 overall pick in the 2020 NFL Draft at the cost of also confirming at least a tie for their worst record in franchise history. The thing about dark times is that they alway come before A New Hope arrives.
Before the bow is wrapped on Zac Taylor’s first season as Cincinnati’s head coach, he and his team will host the Cleveland Browns for their final home game of the year. You’d have to go back to Week 12 of the 2017 season to find the last time the Bengals came out on top over their in-state rivals. Riding a three-game winning streak over the Bengals, the Browns are looking for their first two-season sweep over Paul Brown’s team since the end of the 1995 season. Baker Mayfield was just eight months old when that happened.
Mayfield, the Browns’ turbulent aspiration for a franchise quarterback, has never lost to the Bengals in his first two years in the NFL; much like Andy Dalton won his first three career games against Cleveland when he was a gunslinging youngster earlier this decade. A decade is never longer than when you realize how much things change in 10 years or less.
The paradigms between these two franchises have nearly flipped, with the Browns struggling to ascend out of their newfound mediocrity and the Bengals now starting from rock bottom. One team will hope to build around a promising young quarterback while the other will put their faith in a new one with the first pick of the draft.
But, before Dalton more than likely says goodbye to the Bengals and the AFC North altogether, he’ll have one more chance to best the team that he played in his first career game back in 2011.
For all things concerning the Bengals’ 2019 finale vs. the Browns, keep it locked into this stream.