Browns at Bengals: Four things to know
AFRAID IT'S SO, JOE
Joe Mixon almost sounded sorry for Baker Mayfield, his former Oklahoma teammate.
"The Browns aren't having the kind of season they expected," the Cincinnati running back said.
Mixon and the Bengals at least will get a consolation prize for their underachieving. In dropping to 1-14 with a loss at Miami last Sunday, they secured the first pick in the 2020 draft. The early guess is it will produce a new rival for Mayfield in the Battle of Ohio, LSU quarterback Joe Burrow.
Mayfield, the Browns' consolation prize for going 0-16 in 2017, won a Heisman Trophy two years ago. Burrow, who was Ohio's Mr. Football in 2014 (Athens Plains) won a Heisman last week.
Winning or losing could change the draft position for the Browns, who enter the finale in the No. 12 spot. Guesses are all over the place as to what player or position they will chase. Clemson safety Isaiah Simmons, Alabama tackle Jedrick Willis and South Carolina D-lineman Javon Kinlaw are among current names getting spitballed.
THE BATTLE 'AXE,' SO TO SPEAK
The team from the river was like a rock when it came to its head coach.
Marvin Lewis took over the Bengals in 2003 and was kept through 2018, when he was replaced by Zac Taylor.
Lewis was a fairly new hire when Browns head coach Butch Davis quit after losing 58-48 at Cincinnati with five games left in the 2004 season.
In 2008, Lewis' Bengals went 4-11-1, but he was retained; Romeo Crennel's last home game before the Browns fired him was to Lewis. Eric Mangini's last home game before the Browns fired him was at Cincinnati, which kept Lewis despite a 4-12 year.
Pat Shurmur came and went. So did Rob Chudzinski.. Then came Mike Pettine, whose 2014 team drilled the Bengals 24-3. “Fire Marvin” was THE postgame topic on the river, but Lewis lasted another four seasons. Hue Jackson somehow made it into a third year in Cleveland before Gregg Williams replaced him midstream in 2018. Late last December,
Williams didn't get to keep the job even though he went 2-0 against the Bengals. His replacement, Freddie Kitchens, likewise has a chance to be 2-0 against Cincinnati. Not everybody likes the latest Cleveland pilot's chances beyond that, given ownership’s habits and the latest rough year.
ONE THING THAT WENT RIGHT
In a season of a thousand things gone wrong, the best of the 2019 Browns comes in two syllables. Nick Chubb.
The second-year pro has scored just two touchdowns in his last nine games. His 45 yards and 3.0 per-carry average last Sunday against Baltimore were season lows.
Otherwise, what's not to like about the probability Chubb will become the Browns' first NFL rushing champion since John Dorsey was in third grade?
If Chubb can spring for 100 yards (he had 106 in the previous Cincinnati game), he will finish above 1,550.
The Browns' season rushing leaders since Jamal Lewis sprang for an expansion-era-best 1,304 in 2007 have been, starting in 2008, Lewis (1,022), Jerome Harrison (862), Peyton Hillis (1,177), Hillis (587), Trent Richardson (950), Willis McGahee (377), Terrance West (673), Isaiah Crowell (706), Crowell (952), Crowell again (853) and Chubb (996).
As two-syllable backs go, Chubb isn't Jim Brown. But he, as much as anyone, is why the Browns can win next year, if they get their act together.
THE BATTLE OF HARDLY EVER
The Bengals and Browns have never been good at the same time across the last 20 years.
The closest they came was 2007, when the Browns were an expansion-era best 10-6 while the Bengals went 7-9, and 2014 (Bengals 10-5-1, Browns 7-9). Otherwise ...
The Browns reached the playoffs in 2002. The Bengals went 2-14 and fired head coach Dick LeBeau.
Cincinnati also reached the playoffs in 2005 (the Browns went 6-10), 2009 (Browns 5-11), 2011 (Browns 4-12), 2012 (Browns 5-11), 2013 (Browns 4-12) and 2015 (Browns 3-13).
Since 2015, the Bengals have been out of the postseason while going 20-42-1; he Browns are 14-48-1.
This will be the second straight year for the Browns to finish ahead of Cincinnati in the AFC North, if it makes Browns fans feel any better. It probably doesn't.
In 1988, the Bengals reached a Super Bowl in a playoff season for the Browns. The teams split the season series. About seven years later, Baker Mayfield was born..
Reach Steve at 330-580-8347 or email@example.com
On Twitter: @sdoerschukREP