Thursday Night Football: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Preview, Prediction, and Pick

In this AFC North matchup between winless teams, the Bengals and Browns are both looking to get their first win of the season before the losses start piling up.

TNF Record ATS: 1-0

NFL Season ATS: 4-2

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Preview

In one of the most disappointing results of Week 1, the Cleveland Browns were dominated in every facet of the game against Baltimore in a 38-6 loss. Losing to Baltimore is not a big deal–the Ravens are going to beat most teams they play. It’s the fact that it looks like Ohio State against a Division 3 team. After a offseason that saw the Browns revamp their coaching staff, and talks that Baker Mayfield was an improved player, this was not the start the team was looking for.

There are weapons galore on this Cleveland offense. Odell Beckham Jr and Jarvis Landry are among the league’s best receiving duos, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt give the team a two-headed monster in the backfield, and the team signed Austin Hooper from Atlanta in the offseason. It didn’t matter.

Baker Mayfield has shown no improvements from his poor 2019 showing. Mayfield completed only 21 of his 39 passes for 189 yards, and threw both a touchdown and a pick. His passer rating was an abysmal 65.0, and the clock on his Browns career may start ticking if he doesn’t improve. He will get a golden opportunity in front of a national offense on Thursday to prove that he can make the plays needed for this teams success.

The Cincinnati Bengals have a bright future. Although they lost in Week 1 and Joe Burrow did have his fair share of struggle, the #1 overall pick led the team down the field in the final minutes–only to have his kicker miss the game-tying kick.

Burrow was solid, but unspectacular in his debut. The rookie went 23-36, and failed to throw a touchdown. He added an interception in the process. What he did do however, was show poise. Early on, he escaped a packed pocket to rush 23 yards for his first career touchdown. His late-game drive gave the team promise that he will develop the all-important clutch gene that every star quarterback needs. The end result wasn’t a win, but it’s an optimistic result nonetheless.

The return of AJ Green gives this Burrow another weapon at his disposal. With Green, Tyler Boyd and Joe Mixon, this team has an impressive group of skill players. In Green’s first game since 2018, he caught 5 passes for 51 yards, and had a game-winning touchdown erased due to a questionable offensive-pass interference call.

After receiving a nice new contract extension, Joe Mixon struggled in the opener. He averaged only 3.6 yards per carry on 19 attempts, and lost a fumble. For this offense to be above average, Mixon will have to play like one of the premier backs to take the pressure off of Burrow. The Browns front-seven will present a tough matchup for this group.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Key Stats

  • The Bengals and Browns split their season series in 2019, with the Browns winning 27-19 and Cincinnati winning 33-23.
  • The Browns turned the ball over 3 times in their opener against Baltimore.
  • This is Joe Burrow’s debut against the AFC North.

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Betting Lines

  • The O/U for the game is 43.5
  • The Browns are 6 point favorites on Draftkings
  • The Browns are -255 on the ML, Bengals +205

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns Spread Prediction

The clock is ticking on Baker Mayfield. After an impressive rookie season, the young quarterback took a huge step back in 2019, and followed it up with a subpar debut. The pressure is on, and he needs a big performance against Cincinnati.

I think he’ll get one. The offense of this Browns team has too many weapons for them to score only 6 points. Their opening matchup against baltimore was admittedly a tough one, and while they didn’t show me anything that would carry over into this game, I trust new coach Kevin Stefanski to make the necessary adjustments entering this game.

The front seven of Cleveland should also have their way with the Bengals offensive line. The line was a problem for Cincinnati against Los Angeles, and Myles Garrett and company could cause some serious issues for Burrow. Take the Browns to cover 6.

Pick: Cleveland Browns -6

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