After owning the rivalry for much of the decade, the Bengals were swept by the in-state rival Browns in 2018. The Bengals, 1-11 this season after finally getting their first win of the season last Sunday, will look to play the role of spoiler by putting the finishing touches on what has been a frustrating year for the Browns during the final month of the 2019 regular season. 

While the Bengals weren't expected to do much this season under first-year head coach Zac Taylor, many on the outside were predicting -- at the least -- a playoff appearance for the Browns, who were coming off the franchise's best season since 2014. But injuries, suspensions, and self-inflicted wounds have largely contributed to the Browns' current 5-7 record heading into Sunday's game. But despite their murky playoff outlook, Cleveland is not mathematically out of the postseason hunt but would need to win out to have any chance at making the playoffs. Winning out would also result in the Browns' first winning season since 2007, an achievement that could serve as a consolation prize after falling short of loftier expectations. 

Before we break down Sunday's game, here's a look at how you can follow the action in real time. Also be sure to check out our live blog during the game that will include instant updates, highlights, and analysis. 

How to watch

Date: Sunday, Dec. 8 | Time: 1 p.m. ET
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium (Cleveland, Ohio)
CBS | Stream: CBS All Access


After a horrific start to the season, Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield has gradually improved during the second half of his second NFL season. Over the past five games, Mayfield has completed nearly 63 percent of his passes with nine touchdowns and two interceptions after throwing 12 interceptions during the Browns' first seven games of the season. Mayfield did commit two costly turnovers last Sunday that contributed to the Browns' 20-13 loss in Pittsburgh, with his last-minute interception to Joe Haden sealing the loss. 

Mayfield, who injured his throwing hand during the first half of Cleveland's loss in Pittsburgh, continues to have success making plays outside of the pocket, often finding receiver Jarvis Landry after leaving the pocket. Mayfield has also improved his pocket presence, as more teams continue to force him to stay in between the hash marks. While Landry continues to be his favorite target, Mayfield has slowly developed a rapport with Odell Beckham Jr., who has 57 receptions for 805 yards and two touchdowns. Mayfield and Beckham, however, still need to improve on their chemistry, something that should be a focus during the final month of the regular season. 

The running game has been the Browns' bread and butter this season, with Nick Chubb in the midst of a Pro Bowl season with 1,175 yards and seven touchdowns through 12 games. Chubb is now being complemented by Kareem Hunt, who scored his first receiving touchdown last Sunday as a member of the Browns. Through four games, Hunt has 45 touches for 243 yards and two touchdowns, as the Browns are 3-1 in games Hunt has appeared in. 

Defensively, the Browns are feeling the loss of Myles Garrett, one of the NFL's premier pass rushers who has been suspended indefinitely by the NFL. In Sunday's loss in Pittsburgh, the Browns were only able to record one sack of Steelers quarterback Devlin Hodges after recording four sacks of Mason Rudolph in the Browns' first meeting with Pittsburgh. With Garrett out, the Browns will need more from pass rushers Larry Ogunjobi and Chad Thomas, who are the Browns' second and third most productive pass rushers, respectively. 

Cleveland's defense has received a stellar season from linebacker Joe Schobert, who earned AFC Defensive Player of the Week honors after his performance against the Dolphins in Week 12. Through 12 games, Schobert has 103 tackles, four interceptions, nine passes defensed and two forced fumbles while emerging as the Browns' best defensive player with Garrett out of the lineup. 

The defense has been among the reasons why the Bengals have been competitive in each of their last three games. The unit, led by defensive linemen Geno Atkins, Sam Hubbard, and Carlos Dunlap, linebacker Nick Vigil and safeties Jessie Bates and Shawn Williams, has given up an average of just 13 points per game during that span. In last Sunday's 22-6 win over the Jets, the Bengals sacked New York quarterback Sam Darnold four times while holding Le'Veon Bell to just 32 yards on 10 carries. Dunlap was a one-man wrecking machine, recording three sacks of Darnold while hitting him on three other occasions. 

Cincinnati's offense, a group that has been plagued by injuries, received a shot in the arm after Taylor decided to go back to Andy Dalton last Sunday. Dalton had success getting the ball to Tyler Boyd (five catches, 59 yards, and a touchdown), Auden Tate (four catches for 66 yards), and tight end C.J. Uzomah (five catches for 51 yards) while making up for a running game that has been an issue for most of the season. Joe Mixon, after rushing for over 1,100 yards last season, has rushed for just 643 yards this year while playing behind an offensive line that will need reinforcements during the offseason. 


As good as the Bengals looked last week, the Browns have a clear advantage when it comes to the running game. While Cincinnati is 30th in the NFL in rushing, Cleveland is 10th in the league in rushing and fourth in average yards per carry. As long as the Browns make it a point to get their running game established, Chubb and Hunt should be able to put up big numbers against a Bengals' defense that has allowed a league-high 1,891 rushing yards through 12 games. 

Browns 24, Bengals 17