Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns Pick
Cincinnati Bengals (6-8 SU, 7-7 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (6-7-1 SU, 9-5 ATS)
When: Sunday, December 23rd, 2018 – 1:00 PM ET
Where: FirstEnergy Field – Cleveland, OH
By: Keith Franks, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN +7 / CLE -7 (Mybookie Sportsbook)
Power Rankings: Cleveland -8
Takeaways From Week 15
The Bengals ended a five-game losing streak on Sunday when they defeated the Oakland Raiders at home by a score of 30-16. The victory afforded Cincinnati a second consecutive cover after giving a fight to the Los Angeles Chargers in the City of Angels in the week prior losing by a score of just 27-23 despite being a 17-point underdog.
The Browns continue to show the world that they are not a shade of the outfit that won just one game over two years in the previous two seasons. After earning a victory in the Mile High City on Saturday night by a score of 17-16, the Browns now have an opportunity to be .500 for the first time in over a decade. With a Pittsburgh win against New England on Sunday, the Browns’ AFC North divisional hopes have been vanquished but they are not formally relegated from earning a wildcard berth just yet, even if it would be nothing short of Biblical.
How the Public is Betting the Cincinnati-Cleveland Game
Out of the gate, the action seems more or less split down Broadway with 53% of the general public liking the Browns in this spot. We have seen a small line movement materialize since the Brownies opened as a 6.5-point favorite as the market has moved upward by half a point. The seven-point spot presented here is a notorious push predicament given the frequency of games settled by one touchdown.
The Bengals owned an eight-game winning streak over the Browns heading into the 2018 season but Cleveland put that to an end with a 35-20 win in November when they fostered a cover as a one-point road favorite.
There are no new revelations for the Bengals outside of the fact that Cincy will be without their franchise quarterback Andy Dalton who has been on the IR since November due to a torn ligament in his thumb. The Bengals will also be without playmaker wide-receiver A.J. Green who is also on the IR with a torn ligament in his toe.
When Cincinnati Has the Ball
Despite producing pedestrian numbers in total offense with 326.2 yards per game (25th in the NFL), the Cincinnati Bengals sit 14th in the league in scoring with 24.1 points per game. There are several bright spots on this offense, including running back Joe Mixon who will break the 1,000-yard threshold on the ground in this game and 1,000-yard receiver Tyler Boyd. In particular, Cincinnati has a bit of an advantageous match-up to get Green loose against a 30th-ranked Cleveland passing defense that gives up 275.1 yards per game. The question remains how quarterback Jeff Driskel handles the hostile confines of Cleveland.
When Cleveland Has the Ball
The Browns’ offense is anchored by a talented battery of young talent comprised of quarterback Baker Mayfield who was the number one pick overall in the 2018 NFL Draft and former Georgia running back Nick Chubb. Mayfield has already eclipsed the 3,000-passing yard threshold in his season and Chubby has found the end zone on 10 occasions already well on his way to a 1,000 rushing-yard campaign. The Browns produce middle-of-the-road numbers overall with a 16th-ranked 355.8 yards of total offense per game and sit 19th in scoring with 22.1 points per game. The Dawg Pound get a favorable match-up against the worst defense in the league in terms of total defense (413 yards per game) while Cincy also allows a 31st-ranked 29.5 points per game.
Most notably, the favorite is 7-0 ATS in the previous seven meetings between both sides. However, it is worth annotating that Bengals were favored in six of these affairs when Cleveland was in the dumps. Overall, Cincinnati is 8-2 ATS over the last ten meetings between the two sides.
Weather reports indicate that Sunday will be a blustery day in Cleveland with temperatures staying below freezing. Despite the frigid conditions, skies will be partly sunny.
Keith’s Pick to Cover the Spread: Cleveland -7
Though some may feel that the Browns are prone for a let-down after Pittsburgh eliminated the Dawgs from the AFC North title race on Sunday, the Browns are playing with house money at this point. This once maligned football team has achieved a historic season in many regards as they have transformed the culture under the rise of Baker Mayfield and Nick Chubb. This is a young team with a bright future that has its eyes set on potentially finishing with its first winning record since 2007. On the contrary, Cincinnati has had a disastrous season by many proportions due to injuries and underwhelming performances. There is no stock in Cincy’s win last Sunday against Oakland as the Raiders in many ways have been a carbon copy of the Bengals in terms of disappointment in 2018. This is an entirely different animal that Cincinnati is facing and the prospect for them to be unmotivated and flat in an animated environment sets up Cleveland to potentially blow this team out.