The Cincinnati Bengals are still undefeated. The Cleveland Browns are still the Cleveland Browns. Which team belongs in our NFL picks for Thursday Night Football?
Jason's 2015 record as of Nov. 1: 25-21-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 18-26 Total
Well, looks like we've finally had a “bad” week against the spread here at the home office. We went 3-5-1 ATS with our NFL picks going into Monday Night Football, with a lot of games that could have gone either way – a typical week for football betting, in other words. But we did nail both the games involving the two teams in action this Thursday night (8:25 p.m. ET, NFLN). The Cincinnati Bengals? Still undefeated. The Cleveland Browns? You guessed it.
The Browns aren't the biggest underdogs on our Week 9 NFL odds board; that would be Washington. But as we go to press, Cleveland is a 10-point road dog, and the consensus is split 50/50 between the two AFC North rivals. Or is it? According to our early expanded reports, the bettors who are on Cincinnati are supplying two-thirds of the monies wagered, for an average bet of $102 on the Bengals. That's nearly twice the $53 a pop Cleveland is pulling in.
Bad As They Seem
Picking the Bengals (7-0 SU, 6-0-1 ATS) last week wasn't easy. They had a slight lean on the consensus reports, and we thought the Pittsburgh Steelers (PK at home on the closing line) might have some issues on offense with QB Ben Roethlisberger just returning from injury and LT Kelvin Beachum (knee) gone for the season. Final score: Cincinnati 16, Pittsburgh 10, but the Bengals almost let this one get away with some poor clock management at the end. Can't anyone coach this game anymore?
Cleveland (2-6 SU, 4-4 ATS) wasn't necessarily an easy fade last week against the visiting Arizona Cardinals, either. Getting in early helped, as the spread moved from Arizona –4.5 to –7 by kick-off. It turned out not to matter in this case; although the Browns jumped out to a 20-7 lead, they wilted in the fourth as 'Zona prevailed 34-20. If that weren't bad enough, CB Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner both suffered concussions and aren't expected to play this week.
What's Black and Blue and Brown All Over?
But wait, there's more. Remember how we were saying QB Josh McCown is a lot less likely to succeed after getting battered by the St. Louis Rams in Week 7? You can double down on that assessment – McCown got smacked around again in Week 8, and now he's got sore ribs to go with his sore shoulder.
Remind you of anyone?
Detroit Lions QB Matthew Stafford got put through the wringer in similar fashion earlier this year, and here are the Lions at 1-7 SU and ATS going into the second half of the regular season. Just sayin'. If Johnny Manziel ends up starting Week 9 instead of McCown, all the better. We've seen enough to put a small wager on the Bengals for Thursday night; it's still 10 points we're dealing with here, so nothing too extravagant, thank you kindly.
Free NFL Pick: Take the Bengals –10 (–105) at Heritage
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