The Bengals took down the Browns on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium to improve to 5-6. What does it mean? Well, it doesn't mean much by itself, but it does give the team and fans hope that the 2017 season can be salvaged. If the Bengals can beat the Steelers at home next Monday night, then I will buy into their playoff chances.
Take a look at the updated AFC standings below. *NOTE* The Steelers improved to 9-2 after they beat the Packers 31-28.
Here are three thoughts from today's win over Cleveland:
1. They need to run, if they're going to make a run.
The Bengals are flawed on offense. They haven't been able to run the ball well all season. They did on Sunday. The Bengals finished with 152 yards rushing. Joe Mixon accounted for 114 of those yards and a touchdown in his best game so far this season. The running game was creative. The Bengals ran out of the shotgun and pistol formations for the majority of the game.
Andy Dalton needs a running game. In fact, the Bengals are 20-1-2 when they rush for more than 150 yards since Dalton was drafted in 2011. What do teams have to do well to win games in December? Play defense and run the ball. If the Bengals can check both of those boxes, maybe they'll make a run in the final five weeks of the season.
2. Hue Jackson doesn't have the talent to succeed in Cleveland.
Say what you want about Hue Jackson's play calling, but he has his team playing hard. They don't have the talent to win. Every coach in the world would need more talent/experienced players to be successful. The Browns are young, they have a rookie quarterback throwing to a bunch of young players and Kenny Britt. If Jackson gets fired after this season, it won't be because he's a bad head coach, it will be because he was set up to fail.
3. Stop telling me John Ross is a bust
This is the same coaching staff that had Rex Burkhead on the bench, while we watched Jeremy Hill tap dance in the backfield last season. Burkhead had two touchdowns for the Patriots earlier today. This is the same staff that opted to bring back Cedric Peerman off of injured reserve, instead of bringing back William Jackson III. Jackson could've gotten valuable snaps as a rookie.
They don't get the benefit of the doubt when it comes to John Ross. If they can't get him on the field, it's on the coaching staff. They could make Cody Core inactive, but they like what he brings on special teams. What about Josh Malone? He had two receptions in the month of November and doesn't contribute on special teams (10 snaps on special teams all season). This team could use Ross, especially when they're throwing screen passes to Brandon LaFell (three went his way on Sunday).
The Bengals have a chance to make a run. Can Marvin Lewis, Andy Dalton and the Bengals thrive in primetime against their big brother? They're going to have to beat Pittsburgh for most of us (including me) to take their playoff chances seriously.
I talked with former Browns and Bengals wide receiver Andrew Hawkins.
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