The Cleveland Browns clinched another playoff-less campaign despite high expectations and will at least try to close out the regular season and go into a long offseason on a high note when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday. The Browns have not made the playoffs since 2002 and last won a playoff game when Bill Belichick coached them past the New England Patriots in the 1994 divisional round.
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"This is a result-oriented business and you are only judged off the results a lot of times, but I do feel like we made progress," Cleveland coach Freddie Kitchens told reporters. "We have done enough things to learn from our mistakes moving forward - offensively, defensively, special teams, coaching, playing and everything. We have been in some situations during the course of the year that our guys have not ever been in. I think we can grab a hold of that and get better from that moving forward, and the next time we are in some of these situations, we will be better." The Browns dropped their last two games to fall out of the playoff picture and earned their most recent victory with a 27-19 home triumph over the Bengals in Week 14. Cincinnati clinched the worst record in the NFL and the No. 1 draft pick with its 38-35 overtime loss at Miami last week and is still searching for ways to win tight games. "We need to start winning these football games," Bengals coach Zac Taylor told reporters. "We're in these situations. We respect the (heck) out of our guys for getting us back in it and not giving up when a lot of people probably did, outside of our sidelines. We need to find ways to win those games."
TV: 1 p.m. ET, FOX. LINE: Browns -2.5 O/U: 43.5
ABOUT THE BROWNS (6-9): The expected step forward for quarterback Baker Mayfield after a promising rookie season in 2018 never fully materialized, and the former Heisman Trophy winner goes into the finale with 19 touchdown passes and 18 interceptions on the season. "We set the bar high for ourselves," Mayfield told reporters. "Our expectations were extremely high, and we didn't meet that, so that's the most disappointing thing. In the big picture mindset, it's a process. There's a lot of room for improvement and progress has to be made." The chemistry between Mayfield and wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. has been a work in progress, and Beckham goes into the finale with 954 yards and three TDs - his lowest marks aside from a 2017 season in which he played just four games.
ABOUT THE BENGALS (1-14): Cincinnati has been at the bottom of the league all season, but the team is still putting in the effort on Sunday, and it scored 16 points in 29 seconds to force overtime last week. Andy Dalton threw four touchdown passes without an interception in the contest and could be playing his final game on Sunday with the franchise that made him a second-round draft pick in 2011. "I mean, you're not worried about the draft while you're playing this game," Dalton told reporters. "You shouldn't be worried about the draft. Nobody's worried about the draft. Everybody is worried about doing what they can do to win a game."
1. Beckham (groin) is listed as questionable for Sunday while RB Dontrell Hilliard (knee) was placed on injured reserve.
2. The Bengals placed WR A.J. Green (ankle) on IR Monday, officially ending a season in which he did not play a snap after suffering the injury in the preseason.
3. Cleveland owns a three-game winning streak in the series after dropping the previous six meetings.