Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Preview

Steve Merril - Steve@prosportsinfo.com

Friday, November 15, 2013 4:15 PM GMT

Friday, Nov. 15, 2013 4:15 PM GMT

Cleveland and Cincinnati meet for the second time this season. The Browns won the first meeting 17-6 as 3.5-point home underdogs. What are the best sports picks for this game?

Overall, Cleveland is 4-5 SU and 5-4 ATS; the Browns are just 1-3 SU and 2-2 ATS on the road. Cincinnati is 6-4 SU and 5-4-1 ATS; they are a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS at home this season.

The current pointspread on this game has Cincinnati as a 6-point home favorite at most sportsbooks. The total is currently 42.5 at the majority of shops.

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The Browns snapped a 3-game losing streak prior to their bye which came last week. And while the extra time off is a nice advantage to have, it’s not going to be enough for Cleveland in this game. The Browns’ offense has struggled all season as they’ve had rotating quarterbacks all year. Journeyman Jason Campbell is the current starter under center, but he inspires little confidence and he’s also dealing with bruised ribs.

There’s a slim margin for error with the Browns. Three of their four wins have come by 6 points or less while four of their five losses have come by 8 points or more. They’ve only beaten one winning team (Bengals) and the combined record of the teams they beat in their other three games is just 9-19. Against the two winning teams they faced on the road, the Browns lost by a combined score of 54-30.

Cleveland’s offense is averaging just 19.1 points and 316.8 yards of offense per game. The Browns can’t throw the ball as they are averaging a terrible 5.7 yards per pass attempt which ranks them #29 in the NFL. Cleveland can’t extend drives either as they are converting on just 33.3% of their third downs; that ranks them #28 in the league.

The Browns have strong seasonal defensive numbers, but those numbers have come against a very weak slate of opposing offenses. Cleveland is holding opponents to 4.5 yards per play (#1 in the NFL) and 5.6 yards per pass attempt (#2 in the NFL). But as a collective group, their opponents only rank #21 in the league in those categories. Cleveland has faced just two other Top 10 passing offenses this year; they lost 31-17 to the Lions and 31-13 to the Packers.

Cleveland’s defense will be facing a strong Cincinnati offense that is averaging 5.4 yards per play (#13) and 7.1 yards per pass attempt (#9). So the numbers clearly show that the Browns’ defense is taking a major step-up in class in this game against the Bengals.

Cincinnati returns home off back-to-back road losses in overtime. Their offense played terribly in both games as they scored just 20 points in Miami and just 17 points in Baltimore last week. And considering they scored just 6 points on the Browns in the first meeting, many may think the Bengals’ offense will struggle once again in this game. But we expect the exact opposite. That early loss to Cleveland was forgivable as the Bengals were in a flat spot off back-to-back wins over the Steelers and Packers. This game will get Cincinnati’s full attention and they’ll be ready for a peak performance.

The Bengals’ defense has been rock solid this season. Cincinnati is allowing just 18.6 points per game while holding opponents to only 311.4 yards of total offense per game. Cincinnati is giving up 4.7 yards per play (#3) and 5.6 yards per pass attempt (#3). Those numbers are strong, and the struggling Browns’ offense will have trouble moving the ball consistently in this game.

Cincinnati will be playing just their second home game in a month so we expect a strong effort in front of the home fans. The Bengals also have their bye on deck and they can ill afford to go into their off week on a 3-game losing streak. Cleveland has been dreadful on the road recently as they are just 2-16 SU their last 18 games away from home. We’ll lay the points with the Bengals for our NFL picks in this game on Sunday afternoon as we expect them to win by a comfortable margin.

Free Pick: Play the Bengals -6 at the Greek

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