Originally posted on Fox Sports Ohio  |  Last updated 11/26/11
1. The Bengals are reeling a bit. The Browns won a game last week. Anything to read into that?PAT MCMANAMON: No. Nothing, nothing at all. These things happen, and over the course of a season they even out and teams settle into what they are. That will begin to happen Sunday. ZAC JACKSON: Now, no. If the Browns can put four good quarters together and win in Cincinnati, then the Bengals will officially be reeling and the Browns will have their best win of the season. But the chances of that happening seem slim. 2. What, if anything, did we learn from the three Thanksgiving Day NFL games? Any chance the Ravens catch the Steelers?PM: The main thing we learned is the Packers have a legitimate chance to go unbeaten. If there was a game they were going to lose, it might have been in Detroit on Thanksgiving. But the Lions imploded and the Packers kept right on keeping on. The best chance the Packers have to lose is if they clinch the division early and play meaningless games against Chicago and Detroit the last two weeks. The Ravens played well against the 49ers, but making San Francisco travel cross-country on a short week is ludicrous. Pittsburgh will keep on keeping on, and the up-and-down Ravens will lose at least one more. ZJ: The Packers are really, really good, but we already knew that. Miami is the best of the "bad" teams, much better in some regards than its record indicates, but your record is whowhat you are. Dallas is a playoff team but probably not a threatening one. Ditto San Fran, who just can't score. And the Ravens are the Ravens, and as we've indicated before they're either going to win in January or the whole thing goes bust again. They can catch the Steelers, but it's far from given. The Steelers' remaining schedule is pretty favorable. 3. Peyton Hillis is back at practice. Any chance he returns and contributes to the point the Browns actually consider signing him in the offseason?PM: Sure. If he finishes strong and has a decent last six games, the Browns could reconsider signing him. But they will do it at their price, not his. Hillis already turned down 5.5 million per season (reportedly) and in his absence Chris Ogbonnaya ran for 90 and 115 yards. Thats not to say that Ogbonnaya is as good as Hillis, but it is to say that backs can be found. Hillis needs to understand that reality as he talks new deal. ZJ: Only because strange things happen with the Browns does this remain a possibility. Running backs can be found in lots of places, and it just doesn't seem that Hillis' high-maintenance habits fits whatever long-term strategy the Browns might formulate. He seems to have worn out his welcome, and his departure is probably best for both parties. But strange things happen, so we'll see. 4. Ten days from now, what will be the biggest story in Ohio football - Urban Meyer at OSU, the Bengals seizing a playoff spot, or something else?PM: Peyton Hillis injuring his right hamstring, which sidelines him for the season. ZJ: The Bengals will continue to fly under the radar. Whether that's because people don't care, don't totally buy them or just want to wait and see, it just seems the Bengals are still regarded as more mirage or sideshow than legit playoff team. The next three weeks will tell the story. As for the answer to the question, I'll go ahead and say Meyer. People are nuts over this guy. 5. What happens Sunday in Cincinnati?PM: Theres something in the air these days. Its a sense of confidence from the Browns. This is there even though they barely hung on to beat the Jaguars last week, and even though they lost to the Rams the week before. But when the bar is set as low as it has been in Cleveland lately, the most minimal positives mushroom. The Browns may play Cincinnati better and smarter this week, but the Bengals have been the better team all season long. At this point of the season, good teams win games they need to win. Especially at home. If Cincinnati loses, its playoff hopes take a major shot to the gut. Combine that with the reality that the Browns arent that good. Cincinnati wins. ZJ: The Browns will move it a little bit, and Joshua Cribbs may even provide a big play or two. But the Browns just don'tcan't score enough points, and the Bengals should use Cedric Benson to open things up and will capitalize on the Browns' inability to challenge them downfield. It will be a competitive game, but it's not likely one the Browns can win.
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