Cincinnati Bengals (3-2 SU, 2-2-1 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-5 SU, 2-2-1 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 14th, 2012/1:00 p.m. EST
Where: Cleveland Browns Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
TV: CBS/DirecTV 708
by Badger, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Cin -1/CLE. +1
Over/Under Total: 44
The Cleveland Browns are the only winless team remaining in the National Football League, but they’ll try and change that ugly mark when they welcome their in-state and AFC North rival Cincinnati Bengals into Cleveland Browns Stadium Sunday afternoon on CBS.
The Browns have gotten close in the past few weeks, taking Baltimore down to the final play of the game two weeks ago and jumping out to a big 14-0 lead over the New York Giants last Sunday on the road, but the defending champs came roaring back to score a deflating, 41-27, comeback win and give the Browns their fifth loss in five tries. The young Browns are still having issues on third down, going 3-for-12 on the crucial down versus the G-men to seal their fate again.
Cincinnati is also coming of a disheartening loss last weekend, a 17-13 snoozer at home to the Miami Dolphins. The offense committed three turnovers and struggled to move the chains themselves, going 2-for-14 on third down despite outgaining the Dolphins in the game. The loss snapped a modest three-game win streak for the Bengals, who will try and get back on track while at the same time avoid being the team that finally gives the Browns their first victory.
Oddsmakers originally opened the AFC North duel with Cincinnati as 3-point favorites on the road, but enough money poured in on the home-dog Browns that the line dropped to minus -2.5 almost immediately and it’s still dropping. In fact, there’s been so much early money on the Browns to snap their losing streak this week that the betting line has dropped all the way down to a pick ’em at several of the offshore books and a few of the properties out in Las Vegas.
The over/under total opened at 45 and has also dropped a point to 44 at almost all of the books listing a total, although there are a few sitting in the middle at 44.5.
These two teams from Ohio are very similar. Offensively they rely on young QBs and skill players on the perimeter, which can make scoring points a labor at times. Both are also suffering from underachieving defenses that has cost them a few games early this season.
Second-year leader Andy Dalton has the Bengals moving the ball a little better on offense (371 ypg - 15th) than Browns rookie Brandon Weeden (324 ypg - 24th), but the difference is that the Bengals have a better run-pass balance (Cinn. 104 ypg rushing) than the Browns do (78 ypg rushing) even though Browns rookie running back Trent Richardson is more dynamic than Bengals counterpart BenJarvis Green-Ellis. Speaking of the Law Firm, word out of Cinci is that he’s worn out. The team must believe this too as his carries have lessened with his backups cutting into his snaps.
Where this game will likely turn is on defense. Cleveland just isn’t good, they get gouged in the running game (allow 142 ypg - 26th) and it results in big numbers on the scoreboard at the end of the game (27.8 ppg - 25th). Plus, the Browns lost two starters on defense last week to injury, MLB D’Qwell Jackson (concussion) and CB Dimitri Patterson (ankle), and neither is expected to play this week although Patterson might make a go of it. Either way, you take two starters off of the 28th-ranked unit in the NFL and it’s hard to think that it will make them perform better without them, especially at key positions of middle linebacker and corner. Luckily for the Browns, shutdown CB Haden will return from suspension and wreak havoc on A.J. Green all day.
Cincinnati’s defense is stronger against the pass (allow 278 ypg - 16th) then they are against the run (120 ypg - 21st), so a steady dose of Richardson should be a main part of the Browns game plan this week. However, it will be hard to get Richardson going if they fall behind early like they have so often this season.
Since these AFC North rivals have already played once this season, a 34-27 Bengals win back in week two in Cincinnati, we should have some decent insight into this game. The Browns pushed as 7-point underdogs, and they actually had more yardage too, but 10 penalties and a lack of experience in closing out games hurt the Browns in their effort at a comeback win.
The week two victory gave the Bengals four straight wins in the series, and seven of the last eight overall. But while the Bengals have owned the series on the field, the Browns have actually cashed at a rate of 5-4-1 ATS at the betting window. In fact, the underdog has been an ATM-like 9-1-1 ATS in the last 11 meeting in the head-to-head series.
Some of the big line movement for this game might be attributed to the betting trends of these two teams, since Cleveland is 4-0-1 ATS in their last five games versus the AFC North, while the Bengals are a lousy 0-5-2 ATS in their last seven division games.
The over also has some strong betting trends going in its favor, including a 4-1 mark in the last five games in Cleveland and a 7-1 mark in the Bengals last eight games versus their rivals from the AFC North.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The general betting public are pounding the Bungles and the line has gone the other way and dropped from +3 to +1. The sharps have it figured out, the public doesn’t. The Browns win straight up.
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