Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 9/13/12
Five key matchups to watch in Sunday's Browns-Bengals game... Trent Richardson vs. Rey Maualuga When the Bengals middle linebacker said he saw "nothing spectacular" from Richardson last week, no one should have batted an eye. He's right. Richardson missed the entire preseason recovering from knee surgery and ran 19 times for 39 yards last week with a long carry of 9. The Browns need more out of their running game for many reasons, especially for their quarterback, and have to keep the defense off the field and find some way to score touchdowns. The simplest, most efficient way to do those things is to establish the run. The Bengals will look forward to playing some base defense after chasing the Ravens four-and-five wide looks last week and will try to be the aggressors, stacking the box on running downs and begging Weeden to beat them deep. It's safe to say Mike Zimmer has some different looks dialed up for the rookie quarterback, and those will work better if the Bengals can keep the rookie running back in check. Jay Gruden vs. Dick Jauron The Browns defensive coordinator is bringing his finest duct tape and smoke machine yet again as Jauron loses Joe Haden, is without Phil Taylor for half the season and saw linebackers Craig Robertson and L.J. Fort come from nowhere last week to produce big plays. About all we know for sure is Jauron will roll coverage towards A.J. Green and play his safeties very deep again for the second straight week. We saw Gruden's Andrew Hawkins package in full effect last week and it gave the Ravens fits, but the Bengals know they need to run the ball right at the Browns and get Jermaine Gresham involved to attack the middle and open things up for Green on the outside. The Browns have to stop the run and force Andy Dalton into must-pass situations. The Browns were successful with blitzes from the secondary last week and will probably try to replicate that. BenJarvus Green-Ellis vs. The Browns Front Seven The Bengals didn't come away with many highlights or positives from their Week One drubbing in Baltimore. Green-Ellis getting rolling, specfically in the second quarter, kept the Bengals in the game. The tape will show he did it despite a Bengals offensive line that's still very much in the transition stage getting tossed around for much of the night, and it's up to the Browns to make their struggles continue. Winning the trenches and winning the running game are popular NFL cliches for a reason, and if the Browns want to play a 16-13 type game and fluster Dalton the way the Ravens did last week, it will start with keeping Green-Ellis from getting to the second level of the defense. Joshua Cribbs vs. Dan Skuta Cribbs averaged 13 yards per punt return last week, mostly because the Eagles punted way too much and Eagles punter Chas Henry kept kicking them too far. This isn't so much a one-on-one matchup as it is an overall key in what the Browns hope will be a tight, low-scoring game. Maybe the team that plays better on special teams will win it. Skuta almost blocked a punt in Baltimore and the Browns somehow got two punts blocked in the preseason. Both teams have kickers -- Mike Nugent and Phil Dawson -- who are the designated franchise players and are proven clutch. Cribbs gives the Browns a big edge in the return game, but the Bengals have shown signs of putting together very solid special teams units across the board and think that will pay dividends going forward. Maybe even this Sunday. Brandon Weeden vs. History, Confidence, The Bengals, His Own Receivers, Etc. The Bengals have secondary issues, but the Browns -- both by gameplan and by personnel -- won't line up and attack the Bengals the way the Ravens did. Weeden's debut last week was historically bad and featured a little of everything -- dropped passes, terrible passes, four interceptions, two fumbles (that he recovered), two sacks and zero to inspire any confidence from the fan base that he's the right guy. In maybe the most puzzling statement of the week, Bengals coach Marvin Lewis said he "didn't think Weeden played nearly as bad as some of the criticism he's getting." It was only one week, and it can really only get better from here. But until Weeden shows that he can handle pressure and changing defenses and get the Browns in the end zone, it's the same movie it's been for much of the last 13 years. With full apologies to Lewis, it's a movie that really is as bad as the critics say it's been.
MORE FROM YARDBARKER:
Best athlete by state all time
GET THE YARDBARKER APP:
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45
MORE FROM YARDBARKER

Report: Ryan Grigson relieved of duties at Colts GM

LeBron James: Gregg Popovich ‘factors a lot’ into 2020 Olympics decision

Jadeveon Clowney fined $18k for hit on Tom Brady during playoffs

Travis Kelce fined $21,615 for shoving player, calling out ref

Joel Embiid feels ‘great’ after MRI on knee comes back clean

LIKE WHAT YOU SEE?
GET THE DAILY NEWSLETTER:

10 best undrafted players remaining in NFL playoffs

Arizona's Allonzo Trier cleared to play after drug test comes back negative

Rodgers dealing with sickness ahead of NFC Championship Game

Russell Westbrook responds to All-Star snub

Report: Knicks, Melo to part ways by next season

Report: Pau Gasol out up to six weeks after hand surgery

Can Toyota carry their 2016 NASCAR Sprint Cup success into 2017?

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

Box Score 1/20: 37 years ago today, Carter said no to Moscow

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

The NFC Championship’s two most important players

Eight bold predictions for second half of NBA season

Box Score 1/19: Happy anniversary to the 'Tuck Rule' game

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NFL News
Delivered to your inbox
You'll also receive Yardbarker's daily Top 10, featuring the best sports stories from around the web. Customize your newsletter to get articles on your favorite sports and teams. And the best part? It's free!

By clicking "Sign Me Up", you have read and agreed to the Fox Sports Digital Privacy Policy and Terms of Use. You can opt out at any time. For more information, please see our Privacy Policy.
the YARDBARKER app
Get it now!
Ios_download En_app_rgb_wo_45

Best of Yardbarker: Roger Goodell does what we all expected him to do

Eat, Drink, Watch for Jan. 20-22, 2017: Dips, rye, football and Death Race 2050

QUIZ: Name the owners of these 50 famous NFL nicknames

NFC & AFC Championship preview: We love scoring

Roger Goodell is a coward, but then we knew that

The 10 best sports docs available for streaming

TailGreater: Picking the conference champions by their signature cocktails

The 'What's a Romo worth these days anyway?' quiz

Clarification Please: Why college basketball needs to ditch the possession arrow

NBA hotline bling: Derrick Rose gets disconnected

Today's Best Stuff
For Publishers
Company Info
Help
Follow Yardbarker