NFL Picks: Bengals vs. Browns in Week 4

Doug Upstone

Tuesday, September 24, 2013 6:49 PM GMT

It’s the battle of Ohio on the last Sunday of September and both teams are coming off dramatic and unusual victories, which gave those setting the betting odds something to think about before releasing numbers.

Follow our continuing NFL odds coverage! Check out our NFL Week 4 Betting Odds Report!

Historic performance from mystery man adds intrigue
 
Give the Cleveland Browns front office and coaches an ‘A’ grade for making quick -if not always popular- decisions. When backup Jason Campbell had to play the last series against Baltimore in Week 2 because Brandon Weeden had damaged his thumb on his throwing hand, Campbell played like he wished he had a baseball cap and clipboard in his hands rather than a football.

New coach Rob Chudzinski made a quick decision to go with little-used Brian Hoyer on the road in Minnesota, which turned out to be a prudent idea.

The 27-year quarterback became the first quarterback in Browns history to throw for at least 300 yards in his debut with the team. Hoyer completed 30 of 54 passes for 321 yards with three touchdowns and three interceptions in the victory over Minnesota. Hoyer will likely play before the home fans this week in Cleveland. 

Cincinnati hopes to cut the drama

The Bengals feast or famine style of play is already wearing on Cincinnati fans and though Coach Marvin Lewis is pleased to be 2-1, he would like to see his team play four even-keeled quarters in one game.

After building a 14-0 lead over Green Bay, Cincinnati was outscored 30-0, committing four turnovers in the process. But their game with the Packers should have been played around the Christmas holidays, since both teams were in the mood for giving and Green Bay turned the ball over four times with a 16-point lead and the Bengals tallied the final 20 points and roared to a 34-30, giving NFL football handicappers who prefer home underdogs a winner.

Sportsbooks NFL Odds and Matchup Numbers   

In early NFL odds, Cleveland opened as a five-point underdog, which is no-man’s-land for betting NFL football. In the past four years at Browns Stadium, Cleveland has covered three times against their state rival, halving the matchups at 2-2.

The total of 41 seems a bit low considering the past four conflicts have all gone ‘Over’ the sportsbooks' release.

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What to Watch For 

Cleveland’s first order of business is taking away the Bengals ground attack and they might be up to the task, ranked eighth against the run in the NFL. For those making sports picks, this is important if you want to back the home dog, since quarterback Andy Dalton is less effective when his team fails to run the ball efficiently.

Hoyer might need a similar effort for his team to pull off the upset, because the revamped running back situation saw 48 yards generated against Minnesota.

Cleveland’s Hoyer might be helped by playing at home, but against Cincinnati’s ferocious pass rush; he might by running for his life or buried under an avalanche of orange and black jerseys. If the talented Bengals front four does not have to worry about the run, they can get into the starting blocks and attack, looking for sacks. This could lead to Hoyer miscues and turnovers.    

The Browns defense is playing fairly well. Where they might be most vulnerable is the second level just behind the linebackers and Dalton can attack them with tight ends Jermaine Gresham and rookie Tyler Eifert over the middle.

Final Outcome

For those making NFL picks like yours truly, I will lean with the home underdog, while still wary if Hoyer can hold up to the pressure Cincinnati can generate on defense.

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NFL Pick: Bet the Browns at +5 on the point spread, available at William Hill

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