|10:00 AM PT11:00 AM MT12:00 PM CT1:00 PM ET18:00 GMT2:00 11:00 AM MST1:00 PM EST12:00 PM CT22:00 UAE13:00 ETNaN:� , December 23, 2018|
FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio Weather: 37°, Cloudy Attendance: 67,431
Browns can sweep Bengals for first time since 2002
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
- The Browns snapped a seven-game losing streak to the Bengals with a 35-20 win in Cincinnati in Week 12. Cleveland scored the first four touchdowns, opening their largest first-half lead (28-0) since 1991 (31-0 vs. Colts in Week 14).
- The Bengals had lost five straight before beating the Raiders, 30-16, in Week 15. Cincinnati has not won this season unless it has scored 27 or more points, going 6-0 when it does and 0-8 when it doesn't.
- The Browns have won back-to-back games and four of their last five. The last time Cleveland had a three-game winning streak was Weeks 8-10 of the 2014 season. Since then, there have been 128 three-game win streaks in the NFL, an average of 4.12 per team.
- Joe Mixon made it back-to-back 100-yard rushing games for the first time in his career after amassing a career-high 129 yards and two touchdowns on 27 carries. He is the first Bengal to have consecutive games with 25-plus carries, 100-plus rushing yards and a rushing score since Cedric Benson in 2009.
- Baker Mayfield had two TD passes last week and has had at least one in all 11 of his NFL starts. Only two quarterbacks in NFL history have begun their career with longer streaks - Kurt Warner, 23 straight in 1999-2000, and Brad Johnson, 15 straight in 1996-1997 (QB starts have been tracked since 1950).
- The Browns and Bengals are 31st and 29th in the league in average time of possession, respectively (32nd - Cardinals). Cleveland's defense has been on the field for an NFL-leading 1003 plays while Cincinnati's D has faced 952 plays, third most in the league.
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- AAF gives pro football back to San Diego
- Brown sounds off on Big Ben, Tomlin
- NFL settles Kaepernick, Reid lawsuits
- Broncos to decline LB Marshall's option
Although the Cleveland Browns' playoff chances are slim, the chance that they exist at all is pretty amazing heading into Sunday's home game against the AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals.
The Browns (6-7-1) went 0-16 last season and were 2-5-1 this year before winning four of their last five games under interim head coach Gregg Williams.
Cleveland won at Cincinnati, 35-20, on Nov. 25. What made beating their rivals even sweeter for some of the Browns was that former Browns head coach Hue Jackson, fired on Oct. 29, was on the other sideline as a defensive assistant.
Williams, who was put in charge when Jackson was cut loose, claims that incentive shouldn't be necessary.
"If I have to worry about (motivation), we have the wrong people," said Williams, who is 4-2 since Jackson left town. "People don't understand that when you ask about motivation and you ask about intensity, we're inside of the white lines; let's roll.
"If that becomes a factor, the most important thing that I have to do is recommend to the people upstairs is that guy doesn't belong."
It should be enough that the Browns can sweep the Bengals for the first time since 2002, and if they win their last two games will have their best record since they finished 10-6 in 2007.
That was the last time Cleveland had a winning record.
"That's actually my goal," safety Jabrill Peppers said. "The playoffs are something we can't control. Having a winning record, that's something we can control. That's my main focus. Let's win out. If it happens, it happens. If it doesn't, it doesn't. It gives us a stepping stone for next year."
Jackson made a point to shake the hand of Browns rookie quarterback Baker Mayfield after the game, but Mayfield didn't stick around to chat, and the next day on Instagram, he called Jackson "a fake."
Not all the Browns feel that way about their former head coach, who had a miserable 3-36-1 as Cleveland's head coach.
"(Jackson) just wanted to be a part of the game and when the opportunity arose (coaching with the Bengals), he couldn't turn it down," Peppers said. "So I have no ill-will towards him. I'm thankful for everything he taught me. Thankful that he brought me here, but still looking forward to kicking his ass again."
The Bengals (6-8) have nothing to play for but pride.
Cincinnati started the season by winning four of its first five games, but their season imploded with injuries that put quarterback Andy Dalton, wide receiver A.J. Green and tight end Tyler Eifert out for the year.
After losing five consecutive games, backup quarterback Jeff Driskel claimed his first victory in his third NFL start last week when the Bengals beat the Oakland Raiders, 30-16, in their home finale.
Cincinnati was eliminated from playoff contention anyway.
Even tough the Bengals won, there was more bad news, as wide receiver Tyler Boyd had to leave the game because of a MCL sprain in his right knee.
That came after Boyd, who was stepped up in Green's absence, increased his 2018 numbers to 76 receptions for 1,028 yards and seven touchdowns.
Running back Joe Mixon, who has taken over as the focal point of the Bengals' offense because of all the injuries, rushed for more than 100 yards for the second straight game last week.
Mixon leads the AFC with 995 yards rushing this season and is fourth overall in the league behind Ezekiel Elliott of the Dallas Cowboys, Todd Gurley II of the Los Angeles Rams and Saquon Barkley of the New York Giants.
"We said two or three weeks ago, 'We've got to continue riding on Joe's shoulders,'" head coach Marvin Lewis said.
While he is 354 yards behind Elliott and won't win the NFL rushing title, Mixon leads Phillip Lindsay of the Denver Broncos by four yards and is well ahead of Houston's Lamar Miller (917), Pittsburgh's James Conner (909) and Tennessee's Derrick Henry (882).
The only Bengals to win the conference rushing title were Paul Robinson with 1,023 yards in 1968 and Corey Dillon with 1,315 in 2001.
After their strong start this season, that's the only title the Bengals have left to play for.
Updated December 21, 2018