KICKOFF: Sunday, 1:00 ET
TV: CBS, Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon
Barry will be in the chat room live from the stadium press box...
WATERCOOLER GAME THREAD: Click Here
SERIES: 67th meeting. The series is tied at 33. The Browns lead 20-12 as the home team. The Bengals have won four in a row in the "Battle of Ohio" to draw even. They won 34-17 on Sept. 17 at Paul Brown Stadium.
2006 RANKINGS: Bengals: offense 8th (23rd rush, 6th pass); defense 32nd (21st rush, 32nd pass). Browns: offense 31st (30th rush, 25th pass); defense 18th (28th rush, 7th pass)
PREDICTION: Bengals 31-23
KEYS TO THE GAME: All eyes will be on red-hot WR Chad Johnson working against the Browns' injury-depleted secondary, but it's RB Rudi Johnson who Cleveland might be most concerned with. The Browns allow 136.9 rushing yards per game, and Johnson has rushed for a combined 440 yards on 5.4 yards per carry in his past three games against Romeo Crennel-coached defenses. Bengals QB Chad Johnson needs to orchestrate scoring drives because even the Browns' moribund offense can move the ball against Cincinnati. The problem for Cleveland is capitalizing on its drives, with the Browns scoring just one touchdown in eight red-zone possessions since Jeff Davidson took over as offensive coordinator four weeks ago. But something has to give with the Bengals allowing 27 touchdowns over their past 10 games.
FAST FACTS: Bengals: WR Chad Johnson set an NFL record with 450 combined receiving yards the past two games. ... Are 22-2 under coach Marvin Lewis when posting a positive turnover ratio. Browns: TE Kellen Winslow's 60 receptions are the most in team history through 10 games. ... DE Kamerion Wimbley has a rookie franchise record 6.5 sacks.
--WR Chad Johnson (hamstring) was added to the injury report Thanksgiving Day. He did not practice. He tweaked his right thigh at New Orleans.
--DT Sam Adams (knee) returned Thursday to practice after not officially practicing Wednesday.
--RT Willie Anderson (shoulder) returned to practice Thursday after missing Wednesday.
--SS Dexter Jackson (Achilles) practiced Thursday for the second day in a row, though he remained listed as questionable. He is expected to start Sunday at Cleveland.
--CB Leigh Bodden is on the doubtful side of questionable with a sprained ankle. This is significant because red-hot Cincinnati WR Chad Johnson has admitted Bodden gives him trouble. Without Bodden, Johnson could have a big day.
--NT Ted Washington is questionable with a hyperextended elbow. He probably will play, but if he's limited at all, it could be a problem for the Browns. Rudi Johnson has averaged 160 yards per game against the Browns.
--WR Braylon Edwards said the offense definitely can score against Cincinnati's defense, but the Browns need to be aggressive. Edwards has talked before; this time he needs to back it up.
--RB Reuben Droughns is questionable with a sprained foot. Droughns missed the Pittsburgh game and probably will be slowed against Cincinnati.
--RB Jason Wright figures to get more carries after averaging 4 yards per attempt against the Steelers. Wright looked better in that one game than Reuben Droughns has all season.
INSIDE THE CAMPS
For all of the problems the Bengals have had against the pass -- they are last in pass defense after 10 games -- they showed some of what coaches had in mind Sunday at New Orleans.
Backup Kevin Kaesviharn, starting at strong safety for the injured Dexter Jackson, made big plays.
Kaesviharn had his team-high fourth interception, and his third in the end zone.
"It just happened to be down there," he said.
Kaesviharn's interception of Drew Brees with 17 seconds remaining in the second quarter preserved the Bengals' 10-7 lead heading into halftime.
Kaesviharn intercepted Ben Roethlisberger in the end zone at Pittsburgh in Week 3 with 22 seconds remaining to preserve a 28-20 victory. In Week 7 at home against Carolina, Kaesviharn intercepted a Jake Delhomme pass intended for Keyshawn Johnson at the back of the end zone with 3:57 left in the fourth quarter. The score at the time was 17-14 Bengals, the eventual final.
Against the Saints, tight end Mark Campbell was running an out route, where the goal is to get the linebacker to bite on the fake.
Earlier in the second quarter, fellow Bengals safety Madieu Williams intercepted Brees in the end zone with the game tied at 7. That takeaway was the first for the Bengals since Kaesviharn's interception against Carolina, a span of 13 quarters.
"It's hard to say," he said when asked why the Bengals broke the slump with a grand slam. "Those weeks we didn't get any, we prepared the same way. It's hard to pinpoint (why turnovers happen). If I knew, I'd probably be making a lot more money than I am."
Jackson is expected to return for the game Sunday at Cleveland, which would allow coaches to pick spots in which Kaesviharn might be able to make more big plays.
He had the team's only two sacks of the game at New Orleans. Both sacks came on third-down blitzes and forced the Saints to punt.
Romeo Crennel has another fire to put out with the Browns.
Braylon Edwards said this week that the coaching staff gets too passive in the red zone and needs to be more aggressive.
"To be honest, that does not stem from me," Edwards said. "I think the play-calling needs to be more aggressive. We get down there and we're just happy to be there."
He added that the mind-set comes from "certain people within the (coaching) staff."
This is the second time this season that one of the receivers has called out the coaching staff. Kellen Winslow did it when Maurice Carthon was the coordinator, and now Edwards has done the same.
As if Crennel didn't have enough on his mind with his 3-7 team.