Browns-Bengals Preview

Cincinnati, OH - A last-minute collapse against one of the worst teams in the NFL kept the Cincinnati Bengals from increasing their lead in the AFC North.

Possibly getting Cedric Benson back Sunday for a meeting with the lowly Cleveland Browns might be just what they need to bounce back.

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Cincinnati (7-3) opened the season with a 16-12 loss to Denver after giving up a fluky 87-yard touchdown catch with 11 seconds left. The Bengals then surprisingly won seven of eight, posting an 18-12 victory at Pittsburgh on Nov. 15 to move into sole possession of first in the division.

Oddsmakers from online sports book have made the Bengals -14 point spread favorites (View NFL odds) for Sunday’s game (Game Matchup). Current public betting information shows that 51% of bets for this game have been placed on the Browns +14 (View NFL bet percentages).

They were in prime position to expand that lead last Sunday as the other three teams in the North lost, but the Bengals gave up 10 points in the final 33 seconds to fall 20-17 at Oakland. Cincinnati committed eight penalties, fumbled three times and missed a field goal to see its three-game winning streak come to an end.

The Bengals are 5-0 within the division, having swept the Steelers and third-place Ravens to claim the tiebreakers.

"I think it's more disappointing because everybody lost and we also lost," safety Chris Crocker said. "We're not happy that we didn't get another game up on our division opponents. That's probably the most disappointing thing. This was a team we should have beat."

Cincinnati has another chance to increase its hold on the North, as Pittsburgh visits Baltimore on Sunday night while it hosts the last-place Browns (1-9).

The Bengals have won two straight and eight of the last 10 meetings with the Browns. A 31-yard field goal by Shayne Graham with 4 seconds left gave them a 23-20 overtime victory in Cleveland on Oct. 4.

Possibly having Benson back could help Cincinnati continue that dominance.

Benson didn't play last week due to a hip injury suffered against the Steelers, but coach Marvin Lewis said the running back "seems to be very close" to returning.

Benson has rushed for 859 yards and six touchdowns, but rookie Bernard Scott - a sixth-round draft pick from Abilene Christian - has emerged in the last two games.

He returned a kickoff 96 yards for the only touchdown against Pittsburgh while gaining 33 yards on 13 carries after Benson left the game. Scott ran for 119 yards on 21 carries last week.

"Bernard has earned an opportunity to continue to play," Lewis said. "He'll have a chance, and he'll get some opportunities one way or the other. If Ced is back and playing, Bernard will still play a considerable amount this week."

Larry Johnson also could see more time on the field in his second game since signing with Cincinnati. He ran twice for five yards against the Raiders.

The Bengals will be facing a defense that is ranked last in the NFL, giving up 402.0 yards per game - 154.9 on the ground.

Cleveland was on the verge of its second win last week but allowed a 1-yard TD pass as time expired to fall 38-37 at Detroit.

The Browns, who have lost five in a row and 14 of 15, showed some improvement offensively, gaining a season-high 439 yards.

"The real positives are, we have been struggling offensively, and to have a game where we don't turn the ball over, to be able to get the production that we got and move the ball as effectively as we had, that's real progress and it's positive," coach Eric Mangini told the Browns' official Web site.

Brady Quinn is looking to build on the best game of his career when he faces the Bengals for the first time. He completed 21 of 33 passes and set personal bests with 304 yards, four TDs and a 133.1 passer rating last week.

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Posted: 11/25/09 5:28PM ET

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