Matchup: Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals
Date/Time: November 17th, 1:00 PM ET
Spread: Bengals -5.5
The Cleveland Browns are miraculously just a game and a half back of the lead in the AFC North. The Cleveland Browns can seize control of the division if they can finish up a season sweep of the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday afternoon in the Queen City.
Cleveland was supposed to be dead in the water this year after. They traded away RB Trent Richardson, and they benched QB Brandon Weeden not just once, but twice. Now, it’s QB Jason Campbell who is running the show, and he is running it quite effectively. He’s got five TD passes without throwing a pick, and the truth of the matter is that he might be resurrecting his career. RB Willis McGahee is still having a tough time running the ball, and there really isn’t a man on this team that has turned into an elite receiver either. Cleveland doesn’t have a man with more than two picks or a man with more than four sacks. So how in the heck is it still fighting for its playoff life? This defense might not have flashy numbers, but it is getting the job done. The club quietly ranks fifth in the league in total defense at 315.7 yards per game and is 11th in scoring at 21.9 points per game.
The Bengals have dropped a pair of games in a row in overtime, and though neither one probably should have been won based upon the way the games played out, both were certainly there for the taking at the end. QB Andy Dalton has some respectable stats, but save for a 51-yard Hail Mary to WR AJ Green last week, he really hasn’t played all that well, and that pass was more luck than anything else. Cincinnati’s defense has played quite well this year, allowing 311.4 yards per game, fourth best in the NFL. However, that unit has also given up far too many touchdowns of late to sputtering offenses. At home though, this unit has been outstanding, save for the second and third quarters against the Green Bay Packers way back in Week 3. Still, Cincy has gone a perfect 4-0 SU and ATS thus far this year at home, and it has a great chance to put its foot down and take total control once again of the AFC North this week. Winning four of these last six games, particularly if the two home games left in division are won, should ensure safe entry into the postseason.
We just stated the stat of note in this one. Cincinnati is 4-0 SU and ATS at home thus far on the season. The Bengals were -7 at home against the Pittsburgh Steelers in Week 2, and for as bad as Pittsburgh has been this year, we can’t imagine that Cleveland is actually a better team with Campbell at quarterback than Pittsburgh was at that point. Even though seven of the team’s 10 games have been decided by seven points or fewer and six of those seven have been decided by four points or fewer, this should be a double-digit victory for the Bengals on Sunday.
Cleveland Browns @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick: Cincinnati Bengals -5.5
is a staff writer living in the Orlando area. He has covered NFL, MLB, college football, CFL, AFL, NBA, college basketball, NASCAR, golf, tennis, and the NHL for a number of various outlets in his career, and he has been published by a number of different media outlets, including the Orlando Sentinel and the Wall Street Journal.