The Cincinnati Bengals will close out their season on Sunday when the Cleveland Browns come to Paycor Stadium. With no playoff spot on the line, the Bengals will play for a winning record and try to avoid an embarrassing 0-6 record in the AFC North.
For Cleveland, they have nothing to play for. Locked in as the fifth seed in the AFC Playoffs, they will rest a lot of their starters, per Kevin Stefanski. Cleveland is just looking to get out of the game healthy as they await whichever AFC South opponent they face.
As odd as it may sound to say this in 2023, the Bengals are catching a break with Joe Flacco not starting at quarterback for the Cleveland Browns.
Instead, the Bengals will face old friend Jeff Driskel. Driskel, who started five games for the Bengals in 2018, was signed to the Browns roster just last week and will make his first start of the season against his old team.
Look for the likes of Myles Garrett, Denzel Ward, and Amari Cooper to get rest days as well. It wouldn’t make sense for Kevin Stefanski to play any impact players in a Week 18 game with nothing to gain and a lot of health to lose.
The Bengals should have most of their starters on the field. Ja’Marr Chase is dealing with a shoulder injury but is two catches shy of the franchise record, so he may try to get that and then sit down.
Trey Hendrickson is also trying to become the first Bengals player ever to lead the NFL in sacks since it became an official statistic, as he’s currently tied with the Pittsburgh Steelers’ TJ Watt at 17.
With an important offseason looming, this could be the last time we see several players don the Bengal stripes like Chidobe Awuzie, Tyler Boyd, and potentially Tee Higgins.