Ready or not, here come the Browns.

One of the NFL's biggest surprise teams during this topsy-turvy season in which record and reputation mean very little, the Browns (5-3) travel to Cincinnati on Thursday night to play the AFC North-leading Bengals (5-2-1). With four wins in their past five games, the Browns have surpassed last season's win total and pushed themselves into the early playoff conversation.

Tackle Joe Thomas says the Bengals have been the division's best team all season and will be a "good measuring stick" for the Browns, who have lost 17 straight division road games since winning in Cincinnati in 2008. The 2013 Pro Bowler said the quick turnaround is mentally and physically challenging.

Quarterback Brian Hoyer's steady play has been pivotal in Cleveland's rise and Thomas believes "there's no stage that's too big for him."


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