Key players and storylines to watch in Bengals vs. Browns in Week 8

It’s a must-win scenario for the Cincinnati Bengals against the Cleveland Browns on Monday night.

Lose, and it’s an 0-3 record in the AFC North. Not an insurmountable thing, but history and simple projections suggest it could be near-impossible to recover and truly contend.

Here’s a quick look at key players and storylines to know.

 

No Chase: Star wideout Ja’Marr Chase is out indefinitely with a hip injury. That will put a huge strain on a Zac Taylor system where the wideouts are interchangeable. Much will hinge on Tee Higgins being able to make plays in traffic with multiple players on him.

Tyler Boyd: More than Higgins, though, Boyd will have to win matchups in the slot and do so when lining up outside, too. He’s familiar with doing so after the end of the A.J. Green era, but it takes a new importance with Chase out.

Joe Mixon: The star running back will need to have a big game too, likely in the face of more stacked looks than usual with Chase out. If he’s decisive and effective, the Browns have to adjust.

The DTs: Still no DJ Reader, one of the bigger defensive losses in the league. And this time it’s Nick Chubb as the opposing running back, one of the league’s best with eight touchdowns and nearly six yards per carry. The Bengals will need another shockingly strong showing from the likes of Zach Carter and Jay Tufele in addition to the starters.

Composure: Gone are the days the Bengals are unprepared for or shrink in the face of primetime spotlight. That needs to continue Monday night. It’s also fair wondering the state of the 2-5 Browns, losers of four in a row, after an apparent locker room meltdown after the most recent loss.

Joe Burrow: Who else? Burrow had four total touchdowns and 481 passing yards last week. He keeps making critical, if not game-changing plays as a runner. If he can keep it going sans Chase, the Bengals will win and survive without their best offensive weapon.

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Story originally appeared on Bengals Wire