It’s a matchup of former Heisman Trophy-winning quarterbacks and No. 1 overall draft picks on Sunday as Baker Mayfield and the Cleveland Browns visit Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati Bengals in an important AFC North clash.
The AFC North is one of two divisions in which every team is at or above .500. Cincinnati (5-3) is a half-game behind division-leading Baltimore, while the Browns (4-4) are last and probably can kiss a division title goodbye if they lose Sunday. The Browns' division-title drought is the league's longest, as they haven't taken their division since 1989. Cleveland was generally considered preseason division co-favorites alongside the Ravens.
Last year, the Browns won two high-scoring close matchups against Cincinnati, so Burrow is looking for his first victory over Mayfield. However, if you were to take a poll of the other 30 NFL general managers right now, all of them would surely take Burrow over the Browns' signal-caller.
Cincinnati is 11-2 against the spread over its past 13 meetings with Cleveland and 5-1 ATS during the team's last six home contests.
Here are my picks and predictions for the NFL's Week 9 matchup between the Browns and Bengals (odds via DraftKings, and pick confidence is based on a one-to-five star scale).
Browns vs. Bengals Game Info
Date/Time: Sunday, November 7 at 1 p.m. ETTV: CBSLocation: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OHWeather: Mostly sunny, 63 degrees
Browns vs. Bengals Odds Analysis
If you plan to back the Bengals, as I do, it’s hugely important to find 2.5 points instead of 3. Cincinnati opened at -2.5, but many books bumped the Bengals to 3 for a while. The line is back down now despite an over 70 percent lean toward the home side.
Perhaps get that 2.5 now in case it goes back to 3 and stays there. The Bengals have won and covered during six straight games in this series as favorites.
Meanwhile, the total has risen from 46 to 47, with about a 58 percent lean on the Over. The Over has cashed in each of the past five meetings between these two teams in Cincinnati, and weather won't be much of a factor on Sunday.
Browns vs. Bengals Betting Picks
Bengals -2.5 (-110) ???? Under 47 points (-110) ???
SEE ALSO: Week 9 Parlay Picks
Browns vs. Bengals Predictions
Bengals -2.5 (-110)
Neither team made a deal ahead of Tuesday’s trade deadline, and that was a minor surprise for Cleveland as it’s obvious that three-time Pro Bowl receiver Odell Beckham Jr. isn’t wanted there and is no longer a fit, yet the Browns couldn’t find a taker. He carries an $8 million cap hit for the rest of this season, but there's no guaranteed money remaining over the final two years of his deal.
It’s looking like Beckham won’t play Sunday, as head coach Kevin Stefanski told players at practice Wednesday the wideout is essentially not on the team right now, according to Michael Silver.
Perhaps not coincidentally, fellow receiver Donovan Peoples-Jones returned to practice Wednesday after missing the past two games with a groin injury. He registered 171 receiving yards and two touchdowns over his previous two contests. His health could be a factor in the Browns not wanting to deal with the distraction of the Beckham drama.
On the other side, throw out Cincinnati’s shocking loss on the road to the New York Jets last week, as the Bengals were coming off their biggest victory in years after winning in Baltimore. Cincinnati is still a young team that needs to learn how to deal with success, and the club that beat the Ravens should show up Sunday. Also, Burrow is fully healthy and Mayfield definitely is not.
The Bengals are 4-0 ATS in their past four after a loss, and the Browns are 0-3 straight up and against the spread this season against teams currently above .500.
Under 47 Points (-110)
Mayfield is playing through a seriously injured left shoulder that limits his ability to throw downfield even though he’s right-handed. Cleveland has scored 17 points or fewer in three straight games (one with Case Keenum in for Mayfield), the team’s longest such streak since its winless 2017 season.
The Browns boast one of the NFL’s best running backs in Nick Chubb, but teams are able to stack the box right now while not fearing Mayfield beating anyone deep. Also, Pro Bowl right tackle Jack Conklin, one of the league’s top run-blockers, is out this week.
Cincinnati’s defense has been quite good, that shocking Jets loss aside. Prior to that, the Bengals had been the last NFL team to not allow more than 25 points in a game this season.
The Bengals are tied for fourth in sacks (21), fifth in rushing yards allowed per play (3.9), sixth in points allowed per game (20.3), seventh in rushing yards allowed per game (94.4), and eighth in yards allowed per play (5.3).
Lastly, the total has gone Under in five of Cleveland's last seven games as the underdog against Cincinnati, and the Under is 5-2 over the Bengals’ past seven at home.
SEE ALSO: Underdog Picks for Week 9
Picks made 11/3/2021 at 3:46 p.m. ET