Led by Johnny Manziel for only the fourth time, the Cleveland Browns will march into Cincinnati Thursday night to try to knock off the undefeated Bengals in front of a national NFL football TV audience, as well as thousands more who will watch the game live online to see if Manziel can finally live up to the hype that engulfed him when Cleveland made the 2012 Heisman Trophy winner their first-round draft pick.
To watch a preview of the Browns vs. Bengals game from CBS Sports, watch the video above, on this page.
The Browns took the controversial Manziel with the 22nd overall selection in 2014, after “Johnny Football” played just two years at Texas A&M University. In addition to his off-field reputation for overindulgence in nightlife, and his on-field flamboyance, the six-foot, 207-pound Manziel was considered undersized for an elite NFL quarterback.
So far, the concerns that caused him to drop to 22nd on the draft table have proven more or less on the money. In Manziel’s two starts last year, the Browns lost both times — including a 30-0 humiliation at the hands of the same Cincinnati Bengals they will face on Thursday night, a game in which Manziel appeared unprepared, confused, and in over his head.
Then, in Manziel’s second start — against the Carolina Panthers — he left the game with an injury after tossing just eight passes, as Cleveland went on to drop of 17-13 decision.
To find out how to watch the Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals NFL Thursday night football game live online, see the streaming information in the final paragraph of this article. Kickoff is scheduled for 8:25 p.m. Eastern Time, 5:25 Pacific on Thursday, November 5, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
In 2015, Manziel has fared marginally better than in his rookie year, starting one game — against the Tennessee Titans on September 20 — a game which the Browns actually won 28-14, one of just two victories for Cleveland this year.
With starter Josh McCown sidelined by a rib injury, Manziel now gets a chance to redeem himself against the Bengals.
“On the short week we realized that Josh just wasn’t going to be able to get to the point where he could go,” Browns Coach Mike Pettine said on Wednesday. “Johnny has worked hard to prepare himself. He is excited about his opportunity and we are all looking forward to the challenge we face in a good Bengals football team.”
But knocking off Cincinnati will be a tall order for Cleveland, with Manziel or anyone else at quarterback. The Bengals have started the season 7-0 for the first time in the 47-year history of the franchise, and 28-year-old, fifth-year quarterback Andy Dalton is finally fulfilling the hopes that Cincinnati long held for him.
With a 107.6 passer rating, Dalton ranks fourth in the NFL, behind only Tom Brady (115.8), Aaron Rodgers (110.9), and Carson Palmer (110.2).
The NFL Thursday Night Football game is also a divisional rivalry game — but with the unbeaten Bengals seemingly having the AFC North wrapped up already, and Cleveland dwelling the cellar at 2-6, there’s not much heat around the rivalry aspect of the game.
The Bengals and Browns have matched up rather evenly over the past three years, with the teams splitting their six games from 2012 to 2014. Overall — including the Browns in their previous incarnation, which moved to Baltimore after the 1995 season to become the Ravens — the Bengals lead the all-time series with 44 wins to 39 for Cleveland.
The Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Thursday Night Football AFC North divisional rivalry game will be available to watch live online with credentials from numerous cable and satellite providers, as well as in select regions through NFL Sunday Ticket at this link. However, even where available, the Sunday Ticket option comes with a subscription fee. But the NFL Network will broadcast the Browns vs. Bengals Thursday Night Football game with streaming video at this link.
[Featured Photo By Jason Miller / Getty Images]