We’ve got a battle of Ohio as the Cincinnati Bengals take on the Cleveland Browns. This game features two teams that got off to losing starts in Week 1 and will be hoping to turn things around in a short week. Patience is getting low for Browns’ fans while Bengals fans are hoping that they are finally on the right path.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns
Thursday, September 17, 2020 – 8:20 PM EDT at FirstEnergy Stadium
Cleveland Needs a Win Badly
By all accounts, last season was a complete disaster for the Cleveland Browns. To give better context on how overhyped the Browns were last year, their pre-season Super Bowl odds were +2000, while the Baltimore Ravens by comparison were +4000. We obviously know what the Ravens did in winning the AFC North, but the fact that Cleveland only won 6 games tells its own story.
This year things were supposed to be different. It's only been one week so the truth is, things might be different. If Week 1 is anything to go by, that doesn't seem to be the case so far. There's no more Freddy Kitchens to blame with Kevin Stefanski now at the helm. The Browns were so bad on Sunday that they went scoreless after the 1st quarter. The Ravens meanwhile couldn't stop scoring on their way to a 38-6 beating.
This line opened at Browns -8 and it's a sign of the times that so much action has come in on the Bengals that on the NFL odds page, it pretty much sits at -6 across the board. Cincinnati has easily been one of the worst teams in the league for a while and is starting a rookie QB. Although the Bengals weren't bad against the Chargers, they still lost. Remember, Tyrod Taylor is now the starting QB for the Chargers. So, what this line shift tells you is that the public has really lost faith that the Browns are capable of winning any game by a margin.
Total Should Stay Under
With the amount of talent, the Browns have on paper, the over should be in play here at the top sports betting sites, but the game isn't played on paper. I simply can't look at the Browns as an over team unless they start to show some form of continuity. Does anyone know what they are trying to run? What is their identity?
In their game against Baltimore, it was clear that one team had a game plan while the Browns were just reacting to what Baltimore was doing. The other reason I can't take an over with the Browns is their QB. Baker Mayfield hasn't played a good football game in over a year. He was special for a while during his rookie year.
Then came that offseason and the acquisition of Odell Beckham Jr., Mayfield did a lot of talking and we haven't seen a good performance from him since. Whatever is going on with him could be psychological, but it's hard to tell. If he doesn't himself sorted out, the Browns have no chance of being a playoff team this year.
I'm taking the point with the Bengals and the under. While Joe Burrow didn't throw a touchdown, the Chargers have some of the best cornerbacks in the league. If Burrow can get time, I don't see why he can't be competent enough to keep his team close. I've seen no evidence that this Browns team is a coherent unit, and until they show life, they are an under team to me all the way. Also, I can't possibly lay points with them to win by a margin.
I think the Browns will win this game, but the Bengals aren't as bad as most people think, and these AFC North games are usually scrappy affairs. For my NFL Picks, I'll take the points with the new look Bengals and the under, with two offenses that I think are a few weeks away from being totally in sync due to a lack of pre-season games.
My Parlay Pick: