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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns Prediction,
and Odds - 9-17-2020

Game Snapshot with Current Line

#101 Cincinnati
Bengals 6
#102 Cleveland
Browns -6

Thursday, September 17, 2020 at 8:20pm

Image licensed from USA Today Sports

The Cleveland Browns will host the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night in the battle of Ohio. This will be the home opener for the Browns, who opened the season on Sunday in disappointing fashion with a 38-6 loss in Baltimore to the Ravens. Since returning to the NFL in 1999, the Browns are now 1-19-1 in the season openers. The Cincinnati Bengals will be hoping to avoid falling to 0-2 as well after losing their home-opener to the San Diego Chargers 16-13.

Cleveland and Cincinnati split their season series last year. The Browns covered the 6.5 points spread with a 27-19 home win over the Bengals on December 8, but the Bengals would get revenge as a 2.5 point dog with a 33-23 victory in Cincinnati on the final day of the 2019 regular season. The Browns have won three of the last four head-to-head match-ups, but the Bengals have won 13 out of the previous 20 games in this series and also hold a 51-42 edge all-time dating back to 1970.

Bengals loss sealed with missed field goal in final seconds

After tying a franchise-worst record by finishing 2-14 in 2019, the Cincinnati Bengals selected Joe Burrow, the Heisman winning quarterback from LSU, with the first pick in the 2020 NFL Draft. In his first career start, the rookie completed 23 of 36 passes for 193 yards, with one interception. Burrow scored the Bengals only touchdown of the game on a 23 yard run in the first quarter and finished with 46 rushing yards on eight carries. The Bengals entered the fourth quarter against the Chargers with a 13-6 lead but found themselves down 16-13 with the ball and 3:08 remaining in the game. Burrow and the Bengals offense were able to convert five first downs and pick up 69 yards on their final possession trailing by three. Unfortunately, kicker Randy Bullock who made two out of three field goals attempted, including a 50 yarder, missed a short 31-yard field goal with two seconds remaining that would have sent the game to overtime. Bullock apparently injured his calf on the kick and is considered questionable with "calves". If Bullock can't go, the Bengals signed former Browns' kicker Austin Seibert as another option.

Joe Mixon led the Bengals rushing attack with 69 yards on 19 carries, and A.J Green had 51 receiving yards on five catches. The Bengals finished with 19 first downs for the game and 295 total yards, 173 passing and 122 rushings.

The Bengals defense allowed 19 first downs, 207 passing yards, and 155 yards on the ground. The Bengals lost the turnover battle 2-0 against the Chargers and also committed seven penalties for 44 yards while benefiting from six Chargers penalties for 35 yards.

Same old Browns?

The Kevin Stefanski era in Cleveland began the same way that it did for the last nine predecessors before him, who lead the Browns into a season opener, with a loss. The Browns faced a tough Baltimore Ravens team in week 1, that entered the season with the second-best odds to win the Super Bowl among all AFC teams after the Kansas City Chiefs. Still, despite being a 7.5-point road underdog, the Browns season opener could not have been much worse except for the fact that they avoided a long list of significant injuries. Tight end David Njoku who caught three passes for 50 yards and the teams only touchdown, will miss the game against Cincinnati due to injury and is expected to be out close to three weeks. Rookie linebacker Jacob Phillips who was selected in the third round of the 2020 NFL Draft, is also likely to not play on Thursday due to injury.

Third-year quarterback Baker Mayfield struggled throughout the game, going 21 of 39 with 189 yards, one touchdown, and one interception. Kareem Hunt led the rushing attack with 72 yards on 13 carries, and Jarvis Landry led the team with five catches and 61 yards. Former Pro Bowler Odell Beckham Jr. had a horrendous game, with three catches for 22 yards despite being targeted 10 times. Beckham also had a drive-killing drop on 3rd &2 with under a minute remaining in the second quarter with the Browns trailing 17-6. Kicker Austin Seibert then missed a 41-yard field goal on the next play, which was followed by a seven-play 69-yard touchdown drive by the Ravens that took only 35 seconds, and gave Baltimore a 24-6 halftime lead.

The Browns finished the game with 306 total yards, 168 passing, and 138 rushing, but turned the ball over three times. Cleveland also committed eight penalties for 80 yards.

On Monday, Cleveland waived kicker Austin Seibert, who missed an extra point and a 41-yard field goal against the Ravens. Seibert is now expected to join Cincinnati, Seibert made 25 of 29 attempts as a rookie with the Browns last season, but made just 30 of 35 extra points (85.7%). Cody Parkey was moved from the practice squad to the active roster to replace Seibert.

Defensively the Browns forced one turnover and gave up 377 yards. The Ravens quarterback and 2019 MVP, Lamar Jackson, went 20 for 25 passing with three touchdowns and no picks against the Browns defense. For the game, the Ravens rushed for 107 yards on 30 carries, led by Jackson with 45 yards on seven carries.

The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.

Full-Game Side Bet

On paper, the Browns roster is more talented, but on Sunday, we saw that the team still has a lot of work to do. With only three days of preparation between games, I'm not sure I'd trust to see the Browns dominating anyone just yet. The Browns have a new head coach in Kevin Stefanski, who had less time this offseason to get his team ready, and it showed that the team is not acclimated to his system yet.

The Bengals have a rookie quarterback in Burrow, but he did play a solid opening game. Burrow also has the support of a strong running game led by Joe Mixon, who torched Cleveland in 2019, rushing for a combined total of 308 yards on 6.3 yards per carry in the two games against them last season. The Bengals are also in the second year of the Zac Taylor era, so I give them the coaching edge in preparing for this game on a short turn around as well.

I think the touchdown spread is too much here to back a Cleveland Browns team, which is currently favored more on the basis of "what could be" than based upon "what they have actually done."

Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals +6

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Full-Game Total Pick

Neither the Cleveland or Cincinnati offense looked like an offensive juggernaut in week 1, and they only will have three days to make improvements here. The final score has fallen under the total in the last five Thursday night football games involving the Browns. The Bengals have only played over the total one time out of their last 10 games as a road underdog as well.

Burrow is a dual-threat, and the Bengals will look to establish the run, which the Browns should have been spending extra time preparing for already after seeing Baltimore and Lamar Jackson last week.

I have the Browns winning this game 23-20 and will side with the under.

Prediction: Under 46

David Delano

David Delano is a Bowling Green State University graduate with a passion for sports, traveling, and music. David loves to handicap MLB, NFL, NCAAF, NCAAB, NBA & the WNBA. Prior to joining OUR Team, David has worn several hats in the sports world, from being behind the camera to writing, filming, editing, scouting, and coaching, along with servicing his clients as a sports handicapper. David loves to have conversations about sports and leadership and is always open to learning and experiencing new things.

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