Free NFL Picks for Browns vs. Bengals Thursday Night Football

Joe Gavazzi

Thursday, November 6, 2014 7:33 PM GMT

Thursday, Nov. 6, 2014 7:33 PM GMT

After 9 weeks of play, you can throw a blanket over the teams in the AFC Central. To the surprise of all NFL followers, all 4 teams in this division have a winning record. There is, however, a pretender among the group! That team will be exposed tonight. 

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals 
After 9 weeks of play, you can throw a blanket over the teams in the AFC Central. To the surprise of all NFL followers, all 4 teams in this division have a winning record. It is the only 1 of the 8 divisions that can boast this claim. There is, however, a pretender among the group! That team will be exposed tonight. 

The Cleveland Browns enter this matchup at 5-3 SU ATS. The high-water point of their season came with a 31-10 revenge trouncing of a Pittsburgh team that had dominated them for years. Little did we know that the contest would be a turning point for both teams. For Cleveland, that Pittsburgh victory came on the heels of one of the greatest road comebacks in the NFL history when the Browns overcame a 25 point road deficit at Tennessee for a 29-28 win. At 3-2 SU 4-1 ATS, that may well be the high-water mark for a Cleveland team that has been mired in mediocrity for years. In the 3 weeks following the Pittsburgh Steelers victory, Cleveland has gone 2-1 SU, but 1-2 ATS. A running game that had been carrying the franchise has deteriorated to 111/3.6. In those 3 games, the Browns have rushed for 69, 39 and 50 yards. Believe me when I tell you that there is a direct correlation between those performances and the injury to starting (C) Mack, who remains sidelined for this contest. What I haven’t mentioned is the performance in those 3 weeks was against Jacksonville, Oakland and Tampa Bay, a trio of squads who are a combined 2-23 SU). Throw in the fact that Cleveland has lost 15 consecutive division road games in the last 5 years, and you will know why Browns’ backers are in a world of hurt tonight.

Cincinnati has battled through injuries as well. They were 3-0 SA, prior to their Week 4 Bye. Since that break, however, they have lost badly on the road at New England and Indianapolis (by a combined 70-17), were tied by Carolina on this field at 37-all, defeated Baltimore and escaped Jacksonville last week (33-23). Unlike Cleveland, who was outrushed 113-50 by TBay last week, the Bengals held a dominant point of attack advantage with a 191-132 overland edge vs. the Jags. Those 191 RYs are meaningful because it came in the absence of RB Bernard, unlikely to suit up for this contest. More importantly for our purposes is the return to the fold of Bengals’ best receiver, AJ Green. He will stretch a Cleveland defense. Thus, allowing success against a Cleveland defensive front that allows 140/4.8. 

Any analysis of this game would not be complete without the reference to the strong home field of the Bengals. They are now 12-2 ATS on this field of late, including a recent run of 5-0 ATS vs. division foes with an average victory of 11 PPG.  We'll back the Bengals for our NFL picks against NFL odds.

Free NFL picks: Bengals ATS      

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