Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1 SU, 4-8 ATS) vs. Cleveland Browns (0-12 SU, 2-10 ATS)
Week 14 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 11, 2016 at 1PM EST
Where: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, Ohio
By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com
Betting Odds: CIN -6/CLE +6
Over/Under Total: 43.5
The Cincinnati Bengals come to FirstEnergy Stadium to face the Cleveland Browns on Sunday in AFC North action. It's been a really rough season for the Browns this year, with 12 straight losses to open the season, as the results do not seem to be getting better. Even with oddsmakers going out of their way to make the Browns a more-attractive bet, they aren't getting all that close to covering spreads, having missed covering 6 straight times and with only two covers on the whole season. The Bengals haven't been a bonanza at the betting windows, either, with a 4-8 ATS mark, but they got the cover and win on Sunday with a 32-14 home win over the Philadelphia Eagles. Even at just 4-7-1, it looks like they still have some urgency and fight left in their bones, despite a season that has been a disaster for the perennial postseason contenders.
As division rivals, these teams have already played this season on October 23 in Cincinnati, with the Bengals winning, 31-17. The win came in a stretch for the Bengals where that was their only triumph in a 7 week period. Even teams that can't buy a win are getting over on the poor Browns. Alas, it is not all their fault. First-year coach Hue Jackson stepped into a very undesirable position in terms of personnel and overall morale. Injuries and poor play have deprived them of a chance to make progress this season.
Be that as it may, the Browns haven't been innocent in creating their own misery. They continue putting Josh McCown (questionable) out there as starting QB. In McCown's last 23 starts behind center, he has won two games. Though he may be more prolific through the air than the rookie Cody Kessler (questionable), now would seem like a wise time to see what they have with the youngster, rather than continue trotting out a 37-year old whose limitations are well known at this point. With both questionable and Robert Griffin III ready to get back in there after a week one injury, it looks like RG3 this week.
There is some talent on the Cleveland offense to put to good use. Terrelle Pryor has established himself as a playmaker this season. Corey Coleman, a talented rookie receiver who started off the season well, is working his way back from injury. The run-game has averaged 4.4 yards a run, with Isaiah Crowell a useful runner in certain spots. Duke Johnson, Jr. is a useful piece in the run and the pass. Gary Barnidge is one of the most offensive tight ends in the conference. And yet, they're the 30th-ranked offense in the league. It doesn't help to have a dicey O-line that has allowed defenders to sack the Cleveland QBs 48 times already this season.
The Cleveland defense is the 31st-ranked group in the NFL, both in terms of total yardage and points allowed per game at nearly 30 per contest. It just hasn't worked out. The pass-rush, while enormous for opponents, is non-existent for the Browns "D." They actually have a decent secondary, one that can make plays, but they are also hung out to dry by an ineffectual front seven. There is at least a certain consistency to this group, albeit not in a very good way, as the Browns have allowed between 25 and 35 points in all their games this season.
The Bengals had won just once in their previous seven games heading into Sunday, so the win over the Eagles and it being a lopsided victory was a good development for this squad. Whether they still have even an outside sniff at any postseason hope isn't so important at this point as it is that they were at least able to reverse a bad slide and show some of the things that made them a constant playoff contender until this season. After a really rough patch, the defense was able to make a positive impact on the overall team effort, while the offense saw a lot of things go their way, as well.
Without AJ Green, the Cincy offense was able to see things go as well as it had in weeks on Sunday, scoring on their first six drives. Andy Dalton was on-point with 332 yards and 2 TD throws, with a slew of other big throws. Brandon LaFell had a big game, catching a TD along with Tyler Eifert, who is still working his way back after being hurt. Tyler Boyd is beginning to make progress as a receiver in his rookie season. The run-game has suffered at times this season with Giovani Bernard now on IR and Jeremy Hill's form all over the place, as he had 33 yards on 23 rushes on Sunday. Luckily for the Bengals, Dalton was able to connect with eight different receivers to carry the offense to 33 points. And a line that had not kept Dalton out of trouble this season held the Philly defense to zero sacks.
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The Cincinnati defense made some big plays on Sunday. Three interceptions were key, with Vontaze Burfict picking off two balls and S Shawn Williams getting the other. Still, the pass rush has been inconsistent and the front has also suffered against the run. They kept the Eagles' ground-game under control on Sunday, which qualifies as a good sign. After doing well against Philly, they get a Cleveland offense that has a ton of issues this week and maybe that momentum will carry over and give a boost to a Cincy defense that has really fallen flat this season, injuries notwithstanding.
It's apparent that it's going to be hard to get the Cleveland Browns to cover a lot of spreads. The numbers just haven't been big enough for a team that has only kept the margin in single-digits twice in the last 9 weeks. It's just rare to see a team end a season with such a bad ATS record, as anything worse than say 5-11 is pretty unusual. So maybe things even out here in the last quarter of the season or perhaps RG3 gives the offense a little boost. Maybe the Browns are due.
Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cleveland Browns plus 6 points. Bet the Bengals vs. Browns game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!