The Cleveland Browns destroyed the Cincinnati Bengals and took first place from them.
It’s amazing what the Cleveland Browns were able to do against the Cincinnati Bengals last Thursday; they gave off a strong impression that the wins they’ve accumulated thus far haven’t just been flukes.
The 24-3 beat down was immense and resulted in the Bengals moving to second place in the AFC North; the Browns moved into first place. That’s right; the Browns have sole possession of first place and we are in week 11. We’re far enough into the season that the Browns are making some noise in the division, and could possibly make a postseason run.
The Bengals didn’t play well at all; they allowed the Browns’ quarterback Brian Hoyer to throw all over them, making him look like Tom Brady. The Browns also played great defense and made Andy Dalton look like, well, Andy Dalton during a primetime game.
Dalton has a 2-9 record in primetime games including playoff games, for which he’s 0-3. In the postseason, Dalton has thrown one touchdown and seven interceptions, showing that the pressure is clearly too much for him to handle. As a Bengals fan, I never thought the day would come where I would say I would rather swap quarterbacks with the Browns, but here we are.
Dalton has the weight of the Bengals on his shoulders, and no one should feel bad about the pressure he is receiving. He wanted to be a franchise quarterback, so he signed a huge contract with the Bengals in the offseason with the expectation that he would perform up to standards. He’s got the offensive weapons on his side, but it’s his job to get the ball in their hands and let them make a play.
Hoyer is now 10-3 as a starter, which includes his 4-0 start last year before he went down with a season-ending ACL injury. That makes everyone who wanted rookie Johnny Manziel to start instead of Hoyer look silly. Week after week, Hoyer has consistently shown he can put the Browns in a position to win the game, and it’s been working.
The Browns had a stifling defense last year — the kind that the AFC North is used to seeing — but this year, Hoyer is putting up points quickly so that the defense can take more risks. With the exception of a loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars in week 7, Hoyer has helped put up at least 21 points in every game this season.
The Browns beat the Bengals because they were able to score right away and put the early pressure on Dalton. They forced the ball into Dalton’s hands so that he would have to make the throws to put them in the lead. Then Cleveland’s defense took over from there.
I never thought that I would say it, but the Browns have made the race for first place in the division extremely interesting. The biggest question going into week 11 is, can the Browns continue this winning style of football or will they collapse?
For the city of Cleveland, this is turning out to be a potentially thrilling sports year.
Adam Wondrely is a senior studying creative writing and journalism. Who do you have finishing in first place in the AFC North? Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org