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NFL Betting: Browns vs. Bengals Preview

Posted by Stan Jenkins on 11/16/2013 11:49:49 AM

The Cincinnati Bengals had been 6-2 and in control of the AFC North Division, but they’ve lost two straight games and now stand at 6-4. Cleveland, at 4-5, has a chance to catch the Bengals with a victory in this contest.

Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals

Odds: Bengals -5.5

Total: 42

The Browns are not likely to make the playoffs, but they are still in contention and could make things really interesting in the AFC North if they can win this game. The Browns, with a win here, would sweep the season series with Cincinnati, meaning that if the two teams finished tied in the standings at the end of the season, the Browns would indeed win the North and host a playoff game. Yes, Cincinnati still needs to slip up a few times in order for Cleveland to win the division, but a Cleveland win here puts that possibility in play. There is a clear realization on the part of the Browns that if they don’t win here, their playoff chances are really and truly next to nothing – they will be reduced to the point of being unrealistic. Cleveland won’t be mathematically eliminated, but for all practical purposes, the Browns’ regular season will not lead to a postseason berth. The stakes on the table in this game will give Cleveland the urgency and passion it needs to play a strong game at the line of scrimmage on both sides of the ball. Being able to bully the Bengals up front will give the Browns their best chance of winning.

The Bengals have a diminished and depleted defensive front with the loss of Geno Atkins, but their big issue the last time they faced against the Browns was their offense, which scored only six points in an ugly loss. Yet, this is too good an offense to keep down for very long. Receiver A.J. Green is an acrobat who makes all sorts of difficult catches in the air and in traffic. He’s a player who can go up and get a 50-50 ball, bailing out Dalton even when the pass is less than perfect. Dalton is also surrounded by other playmakers. Giovani Bernard is a great scatback, a small Darren Sproles type of player who can make defenders miss in one-on-one situations in the flat and in open space. Tyler Eifert is a tight end who has a long and productive NFL career ahead of him as long as he stays healthy. The Bengals have so many weapons that it’s going to be hard for Cleveland to shut them down for a second time this season. Every member of that Cincinnati offense is going to engage in a detailed film study session and see what he can correct when compared to the 17-6 loss to the Browns earlier in the season.

Prediction

It’s true that the Browns have not been a very strong team this season, but Cincinnati is showing the kinds of vulnerabilities Cleveland can exploit. The Bengals are 4-0 at home this season, so they might very well win, but Cleveland will cover the number.

Pick: Browns +5.5

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