One of the most intriguing games on the NFL slate this weekend is an intrastate rivalry. Both the Browns and the Bengals are coming off tough losses and trying to regroup. The Browns are 4-4 while the Bengals are sitting at 5-3.
Cleveland lost a heartbreaker to the Steelers last weekend while Cincy suffered an embarrassing loss to the lowly Jets. Oddsmakers are expecting a tight game, as the Bengals are only favored by two and a half points at most online sportsbooks. Let’s break down each team’s offense and defense to determine which team will come out on top on Sunday afternoon.
Browns Offense vs. Bengals Defense
QB Baker Mayfield played decently against Pittsburgh last week but was sacked four times. The former Heisman Trophy winner has thrown for 1,699 yards this season and 6 TDs. Mayfield is still nursing a banged-up shoulder that will need surgery after the season is over.
Though the Browns offense is averaging a respectable 6 yards per play, they’ve performed horrifically in the red zone by only scoring TDs 55.56% of the time. That number must improve if the Browns are going to make the playoffs in 2021. Cleveland is the best team in the league at running the football so look for star RB Nick Chubb (584 rushing yards, 4 TDs) to get plenty of carries in this game.
The Bengals defense is light years better than last year’s squad. This unit ranks 8th in yards per play allowed and 5th in yards per rush allowed. Trey Hendrickson has been unstoppable so far this season by registering 7.5 sacks. Logan Wilson leads the team with 4 INTs.
Bengals Offense vs. Browns Defense
We just can’t say enough good things about Cincy QB Joe Burrow. Though he threw an untimely pick last week, Burrow has thrown for 2,215 yards and 20 TDs this season. He has thrown 9 INTs but that is to be expected from a young QB who is still learning the offense.
This Bengals offense ranks 7th in the league in points per game and 5th in red-zone TD percentage. Cincy struggles at times to run the ball but they know how to move it through the air. Burrow’s old college teammate, Ja’Marr Chase (786 receiving yards, 7 TDs), may end up winning the Rookie of the Year award.
Cleveland’s defense is one of the best in the NFL. This unit ranks 2nd in yards per rush allowed and 3rd in yards per play allowed. Myles Garrett continues to be the best pass rusher in the game, as he has racked up 10.5 sacks already this year.
Our Pick: UNDER 47
We think this point spread is pretty much spot on, as our power rating shows Cincy to be a two-point favorite at home. Though we don’t show any value in either team, we love the Under 47 in this spot.
Both of these defenses are in the Top 10 in yards per play allowed and in the Top 5 in yards per rush allowed. Cleveland runs the ball almost 49% of the time which should lead to a fast clock (teamrankings.com). Take the Under in what could be a low-scoring slugfest. Good luck!