NFL Week 9 kicks off tonight as the Browns visit Cincinnati to take on the undefeated Bengals. Andy Dalton and his team are unsurprising double digit favorites, but can we trust them to cover?
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals (-11.5) 8:25 ET CBS
The Cleveland Browns travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in this AFC North Division rivalry. The game will kick at 8:25 ET as televised by CBS. It was just about 1 year ago that Cleveland invaded Cincinnati and came away with a (24-3) victory as +6 road dog. That snapped the Browns’ 17 game AFC North road losing streak. The teams have headed opposite directions since that game with the Bengals gaining revenge for that loss with a (30-0) victory in Cleveland late last season. Today, the Browns once again invade Cincinnati, standing 2-6 SU, 3-5 ATS. That includes losing 3 straight, the last 2 of which have been by a combined score of 58-26 to Arizona and St. Louis. The Bengals are 7-0 SU, 6-0 ATS, one of 4 undefeated NFL teams. The most recent victory came just 5 daysbr ago when they were outplayed by Pittsburgh but emerged with a (16-10) 4th quarter victory. In that game, Pittsburgh outrushed Cinci 116-78, outgained the Bengals 356-296 but fell victim to 3 INTs by Big Ben, pair of which came in the 4th quarter at crunch time. Cleveland’s loss last week at home to Arizona was a bit frustrating for the Browns. They led 20-10 at the half but allowed Arizona to win the 2nd half 24-0. The victory occurred despite a (+2) net TO margin for the Browns (80% chance for Cleveland to win ATS) and saw Arizona overcome 4 TOs. The Cards deserved the victory, however, as they outrushed the Browns 119-39 and outgained Cleveland 491-254.
As a result, Cleveland enters this game with one of the greatest rushing differentials at the line of scrimmage. The Browns have been outrushed 31/147/4.8 to 24/84/3.4. That goes a long way to explaining their losing record, along with the fact that they are allowing 6.2 YP play on defense. With starting QB McCown (ribs, shoulder) unable to make post on this short week, Cleveland turns to QB Johnny (turnover) Manziel to lead them into battle. The strong pointspread records of Cleveland in these roles have begun to evaporate with a pair of ATS losses in the last 2 weeks. Nonetheless, under current HC Pettine, the Browns remain 10-5 ATS as dog, 10-3 ATS following a loss and 7-2 ATS as dog/loss. They are also 4-0 ATS as division road dog.
Cincinnati has solid numbers across the board, highlighted by an offense that averages 28 PPG on 394 YPG with 6.3 YP play. QB Dalton has a 15/4 ratio, despite a pair of picks last week. On the defensive side, the Bengals are allowing the opposition to rush an average of only 22 times per game which is yet another reason why they are an undefeated 6-0 ATS this season.
With the numbers above, it is easy to see why the Bengals are laying more points in this game than they have in any other this season. No surprise to this bureau, if they come a bit flat, following the comeback win at Pittsburgh just 5 days ago. That win expanded the Bengals’ division lead to 4 games in the loss column over the Steelers. In a role where the Browns have prospered and with little public support from their backers, this looks like the perfect spot for the Browns to slip in under the number. Clearly, we have the NFL odds in our favor. I invite you to join me with my NFL pick on the Cleveland Browns as the Thursday Night Football game of the week.
NFL Pick: Cleveland Browns +11.5 (-110) at The Greek