The Cincinnati Bengals are still winless, but at least the offense is starting to put points on the board. The Bengals will try to turn their season around and get on the path to becoming the first team to make the postseason after an 0-3 start since 1998 when they visit the AFC North rival Cleveland Browns on Sunday.
Cincinnati fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after failing to score a touchdown in the first two games and looked better under new coordinator Bill Lazor last week, but could not pull off the upset and ended up falling 27-24 in overtime at Green Bay. “I think it’s a real general statement for me to say get the ball to your best players, so I don’t mean to be insulting, but that’s part of it,” Lazor told reporters of his approach. “I think the guys who have proven before they can be successful and help you win games, you’ve got to rely on them to do it.” The Browns are winless as well but are not giving opponents an easy time and came within one play of pulling off a victory at Indianapolis last week. “The guys are playing together,” Cleveland coach Hue Jackson told reporters. “It has made a huge difference. Our guys did some good things. We did some things that we have to continue to improve on, but I think we are heading in the right direction.”
TV: 1 p.m. ET, CBS. LINE: Bengals -3. O/U: 41.5
ABOUT THE BENGALS (0-3): Cincinnati will get linebacker Vontaze Burfict back on Sunday after he served a three-game suspension for a hit during the preseason. “Obviously he’s one of our best players, so it’s good to get him back,” Bengals defensive coordinator Paul Guenther told reporters of Burfict. “He’s a good, emotional leader. He knows the defense inside and out. It’s nice to have him back. We can use him in a lot of ways. He’s a versatile guy. He’s a big part of what we do.” Burfict joins a defense that could be seeing a new star emerge in rookie pass rusher Carl Lawson, who collected 2.5 sacks last week.
ABOUT THE BROWNS (0-3): Cleveland is hoping to have its own defensive star make his debut in No. 1 overall pick Myles Garrett, who sat out the first three games recovering from an ankle sprain. Garrett returned to practice on a limited basis this week and could have a small role on Sunday as a third-down pass rusher if he is unable to play a full game. “I want to make sure that we cross all the ‘Ts’ and dot all the ‘Is’ and talk to the medical staff about what the expectation would be of him and what we are going to do because he is a huge piece of our organization and our future,“ Jackson told reporters. ”We want to be cautious but smart as we go through it. ... We will see where that is over the next couple of days.”
1. Bengals WR A.J. Green caught his first TD pass of the season last week and reeled in 10 passes, matching his total from the first two contests.
2. Cleveland LB Jamie Collins (concussion) missed practice on Thursday and is questionable.
3. Cincinnati waived veteran LB Hardy Nickerson to make room for Burfict on the roster.
PREDICTION: Bengals 24, Browns 20