PFF Preview: Bengals @ Browns, Week 15
The Cleveland Browns will look to stay alive in the playoff race this week, as they host their AFC North rivals and current division leaders, the Cincinnati Bengals. This will be the Browns’ first game with rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel starting which will be sure to draw a lot of attention.
One thing that might not draw as much attention as it should is just how good the offensive line in front of Manziel has been playing all season. Tackle Joe Thomas has been an absolute force, equally dominant in both pass blocking (third-highest grade, +18.8 grade) and run blocking (highest grade, +15.1 grade). Add in the play of guards Joel Bitonio and John Greco, who rank as the second- and seventh-highest-graded guards in the league, respectively, and the Browns should be quite confident that Manziel will not be hit too hard too often in his starting debut.
The Bengals will counter with a defensive line that has struggled for most of the season, particularly at rushing the passer. Aside from Geno Atkins, the defensive line has not been able to generate much pressure at all. End Robert Geathers and defensive tackle Domata Peko each rank dead last at their position in Pass Rushing Productivity. In fact, as a defensive unit, the Bengals’ combined pass rush grade of -48.9 is the worst in the league by a large amount. One of the best ways to beat a young rookie quarterback is to pressure him into making mistakes, so the Bengals will have to find a way to generate a pass rush against a very good offensive line.
Keep an eye on these three impact players from each team:
Andrew Whitworth – He leads the league with a ridiculously low eight QB pressures allowed (zero sacks) and a Pass Blocking Efficiency of 98.6.
A.J. Green – Green’s 3.29 Yards Per Route Run is by far the highest in the league, and only one receiver has had a better grade than his +10.4 over the last four weeks.
George Iloka – He’s allowed only nine receptions all year and his 57.4 Cover Snaps Per Reception is the highest among safeties in the NFL.
Andrew Hawkins – Hawkins has been the Browns’ best and most consistent receiver for the team all year, and his +11.4 overall grade is 11th among receivers.
Jabaal Sheard – Sheard has made 21 solo run stops in limited snaps, giving him the second-best Run Stop Percentage among 3-4 outside linebackers.
Chris Kirksey – His 16.9 Cover Snaps Per Reception and 0.48 Yards Per Cover Snap are both second-best among inside linebackers.
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