Bengals 27, Browns 13
Sunday was the day when we all should have cast aside our semi-ambiguous thoughts that the Browns, somehow, might be something of a playoff contender this year. That all those preseason doom-and-gloom predictions were wrong and the Browns might actually be decent in the parity-driven NFL. That all the players needed was a good coach to reach them.
The Browns are not going to be a good team this year. They're not even going to be a mediocre team. Accept it now. You'll save on antacid this fall.
Bengals QB Carson Palmer looked like a Pro Bowler carving up the Browns' overmatched defense for almost 300 yards passing. Running back Rudi Johnson didn't have a spectacular game, but he broke the 100-yard barrier, something the Browns' leading rusher, Reuben Droughns, couldn't (78 yards).
The Browns have some playmakers on offense, chiefly Antonio Bryant. Offensive coordinator Maurice Carthon continued to show an ability to mix his play calls, something that should suit the Browns well once Charlie Frye takes the reigns, whenever that may be.
It might be at some point this season. Sunday's performance made it obvious that Trent Dilfer is running out of gas. A career of perseverance might finally stall on Cleveland's watch. Dilfer used to be able to pride himself on taking care of the ball, even if he didn't put the flashiest stats on the board. Sunday, he threw two interceptions and lost a fumble. He hasn't started on a regular basis in three years, and his performance looked the part.
Though the offense has its points of promise, the Browns defense is as bad as it has been since re-entering the league in 1999. The personnel corps doesn't entirely suit the 3-4 defense coach Romeo Crennel is trying to install, and the guys that can play the 3-4 are still learning the system. I will predict right now the Browns will give up the most points in the league this year. Could they surrender 50 to Indianapolis in two weeks? Not out of the question.
Having No. 1 cornerback Gary Baxter out with a concussion didn't help matters for the defense. Hopefully he'll be back for the Colts game.
Up next: at Green Bay, Sunday, 4:15 p.m. ET.