Bet 'Over' 44.5 for Browns vs. Bengals Thursday Night NFL Picks

Jason Lake

Wednesday, November 5, 2014 7:03 PM UTC

Wednesday, Nov. 5, 2014 7:03 PM UTC

Five of the last six games between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals have gone OVER the posted total. Is there any reason we should make a contrarian NFL pick against Thursday night’s over/under?

Jason’s record after Week 9: 26-36 ATS, 10-14-1 Totals

Profit: minus-34.81 units

At this point, we definitely need a good reason to bet the UNDER in any particular NFL game. Maybe several good reasons. The OVER enjoyed another profitable showing in Week 9, going 7-5 (58.3 percent) against the NFL odds to improve to 71-62 (53.4 percent) on the season – and don’t forget, that was after going 7-9 in each of the first two weeks. You can’t blame the sharps for auto-betting the OVER on every single game as soon as it opens. Too easy? Too bad.

That’s pretty much what’s happened for Thursday night’s tilt (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN) between the Cleveland Browns and the Cincinnati Bengals. This AFC North grindfest opened at 43.5 points, and our first consensus reports showed 94 percent of bettors pounding the OVER, even with the total already up to 44.5. The consensus dipped to 64 percent afterward, still very close to a supermajority. Shall we join in the fun? Or are there enough mitigating circumstances to change our default stance?


Green and Brown
Here’s one: Cleveland has driven the UNDER to the pay window in each of its last four games after starting the season 0-4. The Browns defense has seen some improvements this year under new head coach Mike Pettine, who played safety for the Virginia Cavaliers in the mid-‘80s and was the defensive co-ordinator for Rex Ryan and the New York Jets, back when they had the top defense in the league. There’s still a lot of room for improvement at No. 21 overall (No. 15 pass, No. 31 rush) on the DVOA charts, but it’s a good start.

We’re going to have to burst the bubble on this mini-trend. Cleveland’s first UNDER was against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 6, when the Steelers were still stuck in the mud. The next three were against the Jacksonville Jaguars, the Oakland Raiders, and the Tampa Bay Buccaneers – three of the four worst offenses in the league according to DVOA.


Meanwhile, the Bengals have taken the opposite approach, going OVER the posted total in four of their last five games after a 0-3 start. The Jacksonville Jaguars were on their list of opponents, but so were three of the Top 10 offenses in the league, plus the No. 20 Carolina Panthers. Thursday night’s game features a pair of average offenses, with Cincinnati checking in at No. 15 (No. 15 pass, No. 6 rush) and Cleveland at No. 16 (No. 8 pass, No. 26 rush).

Note the mismatch here between the Bengals running game and the Browns run blocking. Giovani Bernard (hip) is doubtful to play, but Cincinnati fans have already cottoned onto Jeremy Hill, who romped for 154 yards and two TDs on 24 carries last week against Jacksonville. Sadly, the Browns aren’t similarly set up to attack Cincy’s league-worst rush defense, but perhaps things will improve now that rookie RB Terrance West is getting some touches again.


Welcome to the Rainforest
Both teams in this All-Ohio matchup have some injuries on the offensive line and in the receiving corps that could drag scoring down, but injuries have also affected both defenses pretty significantly, so we’ll move on to the one thing that could really bog things down: the weather. Thursday night’s forecast calls for a 30-percent chance of rain over Paul Brown Stadium with some wind gusts thrown in for good measure.

When making our NFL picks this could be a problem. But clear skies are expected for Friday, so unless this weather pattern decides to linger over the stadium and watch some football, it looks like we’ll have decent enough weather for the offenses to operate as usual. Let’s do this.

Free NFL Pick: Bet one unit on OVER 44.5 at 5Dimes

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