Week two of the NFL season kicks off today with a rather lackluster matchup that many wouldn’t watch without some action. The Cincinnati Bengals travel to Cleveland Browns to face off with their division rivals (8.20pm ET Thursday live on NFL Network).
Both teams are coming off week one losses and looking to get in the win column. It is tough to call a week two game a ‘must win’ but this Thursday Night Football matchup certainly feels like one for the Browns. They are coming off a six-win season in which they were one of the more hyped up teams pre-season. The Browns cannot afford to fall to 0-2 on the season with new head coach Kevin Stefanski and high hopes.
The Bengals lost in brutal fashion against the LA Chargers as kicker Randy Bullock missed a chip shot field goal to tie the game with seconds left while last year’s division winning Ravens trounced the Browns.
First overall pick Joe Burrow is looking to pick up his first career win after a decent showing in his debut. He was able to lead the Bengals down the field and put them in position for a game tying field goal on the last drive of the game. The LSU product, Burrow finished last week’s contest with 193 yards passing, zero touchdowns, one interception, and a rushing touchdown on eight carries for 46 yards. He made a costly interception as it looked like the NFL game was a bit fast for the former champion quarterback. Expect Burrow to have a lengthy and productive NFL career but can he do enough in his second career start to cover?
Where the money’s going
This is the perfect buy low spot on the Cleveland Browns and that may be our conclusion come time for those Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns predictions. Bettors are all over the Bengals with 56% of bets coming in on the +6 underdog. However, 59% of the money so far is on the home favorite, which signifies bigger money bets are coming in on the Browns. They are coming off quite a forgettable performance with Baker Mayfield throwing for only 189 yards, one touchdown and one interception.
Most disappointing, for bettors and fantasy players alike, was star wide receiver Odell Beckham Jr. only grabbing three catches for 22 yards on ten targets. Two bright spots on the Browns offense were running backs Kareem Hunt and Nick Chubb who went for 72 and 60 yards respectively. Both backs averaged over five yards per carry and showed why they are one of the stronger one-two punches in the league. I expect the tandem to have another strong outing against a rather weak Bengals’ rushing defense that gave up 155 yards on the ground to the Chargers.
The Bengals’ star defensive tackle Geno Atkins has been ruled out for tonight’s contest. The Bengals will also be without defensive tackle Mike Daniels for the second straight week. Without their presence in the middle to anchor the defense they could be in for a long night against the Browns’ vaunted rushing attack. For all my fellow daily fantasy bettors I would look to play either Chubb or Hunt at running back this week.
The Browns should also dominate in the air against a rather inexperienced Bengals’ secondary that gave up 208 yards in the air to an inept Chargers’ passing attack helmed by Tyrod Taylor.
The Bengals starting corners Darius Phillips and William Jackson III have a combined two career interceptions. Phillips made his first career start last week. The success of the rushing attack will help open up the play-action game.
Baker Mayfield is set to have a bounce-back game with their experienced weapons in wide receivers Jarvis Landry and Odell Beckham picking it up after disappointing week one performances. Last year Landry averaged 5.1 receptions and 73.4 yards per game. Beckham averaged 4.6 receptions and 64.6 yards per game.
Newly acquired free agent Austin Hooper also looks to put week one in the rearview. The former Atlanta Falcon had only two receptions for 15 yards and zero touchdowns against the Ravens’ stout defense. In 2019 he averaged 5.7 receptions and 60.5 yards per game for the Falcons. Look for all three to have strong performances and progress back to their 2019 averages after all falling flat against the Ravens, who have one of the better defenses in the league.
Our Preview’s Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns Predictions & Betting Picks Verdict
The Browns should win and cover at home against their cross-state rival. I also think the Browns offense can control the time of possession with a strong rushing performance and the defense can give Burrow some trouble. These are the advised picks and Cincinnati Bengals vs Cleveland Browns predictions for this preview: