Week 12 NFL Consensus: Sharps Take Bengals Over Browns

Jason Lake

Sunday, November 25, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

Sunday, Nov. 25, 2018 12:00 PM UTC

People keep betting on the Cleveland Browns, but it’s the Cincinnati Bengals who belong in your NFL picks for Sunday’s AFC North showdown at Paul Brown Stadium.

Jason’s 2018-19 NFL picks record through Week 11: 6-11 ATS, 2-4 Totals

Cleveland (3-6-1 SU, 6-4 ATS) vs. Cincinnati (5-5 SU and ATS)Sunday, 1:00 p.m. ET; Cincinnati (CBS)Free NFL Pick: BengalsBest Line Offered: Pinnacle

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I understand the disinterest people have for the Cincinnati Bengals. Here’s a team that hasn’t won a playoff game since the 1990 campaign, when Ickey Woods was still doing The Shuffle. They’ve got a red-headed QB in Andy Dalton who’s been to the Pro Bowl three times, but who cares – he’s a ginger. What is it with these racists? And the Bengals aren’t even a good 5-5 team; they’ve got a minus-56 point differential, worst in the AFC North.

Yes, worse than the Cleveland Browns (minus-45). But there’s no way in heck we’re going to recommend the Browns for your NFL picks this week. In fact, one look at the expanded consensus reports should be almost enough to convince you that Cincinnati is the right choice as a 2.5-point home fave. Almost – we’ll provide further corroborating evidence in a moment.

I Like to Move It

Let’s start with those numbers. At press time, the Browns are pulling in a slight majority of bettors at 50.55 percent. Check out that amount wagered, though: The Bengals are drawing 72.64 percent of the cash, for an average bet size of $76. That’s almost three times the size of Cleveland’s miserly $28 a pop. These are the classic earmarks of a sharp pick, although it would be more comforting if Cincinnati had some really big action on their side.

Fortunately for us, the Bengals have moved from –3 (–120) when the NFL odds first hit the board to as low as –2.5 (–105). That’s a highly valuable half-point off the magic number 3, with a little extra juice thrown in as a bonus. And FiveThirtyEight project Cincinnati as a 7.5-point favorite using their Elo-based formula. You could fit five Andy Daltons in that gap.

Half-Baked Brownies

There was a fair bit of excitement around the Browns during the offseason. They scooped up the No. 1 pick in QB Baker Mayfield, who took over the starting gig from Tyrod Taylor in Week 4 to much fanfare. Mayfield has indeed shown some moments of brilliance, but here’s the thing: The Browns were 1-1-1 SU and 3-0 ATS before they made the switch. They tied the Pittsburgh Steelers (–3.5 away) in Week 1, and they nearly beat the New Orleans Saints (–10 at home) in Week 2.

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I love how quick everyone jumps to conclusions in football. Mayfield brought the Browns back from losing in one game and he was the MVP, y’all were literally saying he was MVP worthy and now nothing. Cooper makes two TD’s and now he’s worth the 1st round pick? Lmfao delusional

— Daniela V. 🥰 (@danielaxnv_) 23 de novembro de 2018
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Dalton (No. 18 overall in passing DVOA at Football Outsiders) won’t be going to the Pro Bowl this year, but he’s outplayed Mayfield (No. 24) by a fair margin. While the Browns have the rest advantage after taking the bye in Week 11, their offense is riddled with injuries, and the Bengals recently added former Browns head coach Hue Jackson to their staff. It’s an easy choice, but make it a small bet – these are NFL sides, after all – and may the prolate spheroid be with you.

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