Originally posted on This Given Sunday  |  Last updated 9/27/13
The Cleveland Browns can climb back to .500 with a win against their intrastate rival, the Cincinnati Bengals. Two weeks ago, the Browns wouldn’t have stood a chance against the Bengals, but adding a passing game, even if it is erratic, can change the odds of any outcome. Brian Hoyer wasn’t spectacular in the Browns’ win last weekend, but he did something that Brandon Weeden never did as the team’s starting quarterback. He stretched the defense vertically, and that may give the Browns an element of surprise against the Bengals. Humor me. Imagine a scenario where the Browns open the game by going deep, and connecting, on a huge touchdown. Now the crowd is into the game, and the Bengals are thinking such a thing was a fluke. Then, it happens again. Brian Hoyer understands something vital that many young quarterbacks don’t realize. Even an incomplete pass deep loosens the defense, if only a little bit at a time. Sure, you have to actually complete some of those deep passes to loosen the defense up enough to open up routes underneath the defense, but too many quarterbacks are unwilling to take those lower percentage shots. Now, don’t get me wrong in this. The Browns are still the underdog going into this weekend’s game, but they have a legitimate chance to pull off the upset. The Browns will have to not only go vertical, but they’ll also have to do so efficiently to have a chance. The Bengals are still the better team, but as recently as week two, the Browns didn’t stand a chance. With a passing game, the Browns could give some teams some trouble. Don’t believe me? Just ask the Minnesota Vikings. [follow]

This article first appeared on This Given Sunday and was syndicated with permission.

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