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Surging Browns Look to keep Playoff Hopes Alive vs Reeling Bengals

Cincinnati vs Cleveland Betting Odds

The 6-7-1 Cleveland Browns return to FirstEnergy Stadium for their final home game of the season as they wrap up their two-game season series with their AFC North rival, the 6-8 Cincinnati Bengals. Cleveland ended a seven-game losing streak against Cincinnati when the two met at Paul Brown Stadium in Week 12 as the Browns earned a 35-20 triumph and they are a 7-point favorite in this week’s game with the total opening at 45 points.

Shark Bites
  • Cleveland is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games (avg. winning margin: 8.5).
  • The total has gone UNDER in four of Cleveland’s last five games (avg. combined score: 44).
  • Cincinnati is 2-7 SU and 3-6 ATS in its last nine games (avg. losing margin: 15.14).

Cincinnati vs Cleveland Game Center

Bengals finally stopped the bleeding

Cincinnati had a strong start to the season, jumping out to a 5-3 record heading into its bye week, falling only to Pittsburgh, at Kansas City and at Carolina. However, in the final game before the bye, the Bengals lost Pro Bowl wide receiver A.J. Green to a toe injury and the wheels came off for their season.

They have found victory just once since Week 9, dropping five games in a row before topping Oakland 30-16 last week, but the win came at a cost as they lost No. 2 WR Tyler Boyd to what could be a season-ending knee injury. Cincy now limps into this game vs Cleveland with its backup QB and a third-string TE and down its top two receivers.

Prior to all the injuries, the Bengals averaged 30.25 points per game, while over the last six games they are averaging 19.33. The lone bright spot offensively during this rough stretch is the play of running back Joe Mixon, who has averaged 109.17 all-purpose yards and has run in four touchdowns. Defensively, they surrender the second-most points per game at 29.5, which rises to 30.8 in their road games.

Browns battling for their playoff lives

The Cleveland Browns and the NFL playoffs are two things that couldn’t be further apart from each other in recent memory. But at 6-7-1, Cleveland is still mathematically in the hunt for a spot, with the Baltimore Ravens currently holding the final seed at 8-6. The Browns are on a bit of a tear after ditching head coach Hue Jackson after Week 8, winning four of their last five games, and are looking for their first three-game winning streak since Week 8 through 10 of the 2014 season.

First overall draft pick Baker Mayfield is really hitting his stride, completing 71.1 percent of his passes for 1,297 yards with 11 TDs and four interceptions over this current hot streak for the Browns. Additionally, since the departure of Carlos Hyde heading into Week 7, running back Nick Chubb has given the Browns a two-pronged attack, averaging 85.88 yards while adding six touchdowns over those eight games.

The defense has been stout since Gregg Williams took over the head coaching duties, as they have given up more than 20 points just twice in his six games, surrendering 37 to Kansas City and 29 on the road against red-hot Houston. Overall, the Browns rank fifth in the league in turnover margin at +0.6, which rises to +1.1 at home, and they have given up an average of just 20.2 points per game over their last five games.

Should you be on the OVER?

A pair of AFC North rivals collide for the second time in five weeks and Bovada has the total opening at 45 points. Cleveland has gone UNDER in four of its last five games, including its last three in a row, with an average combined score of 44. However, the lone game that went OVER came against Cincinnati when the two played to a combined score of 55.

Additionally, the Bengals have gone OVER in five of their last seven games with an average combined score of 51.86, with only one game going UNDER 44 points in that stretch. Lastly, Cincy’s defense has been absolutely horrible, surrendering 29.5 points per game this year, which is the second-most in the NFL. That number rises to 30.8 on the road and Mayfield shredded them for 258 yards and four TDs in Week 12. I think you should be on the OVER this weekend.

My take on Cincinnati vs Cleveland

I like both the OVER 45 points as well as Cleveland covering the 7-point spread, probably the Browns -7 more than the OVER. Cincinnati is averaging just 19.33 points per game over its last six games, scoring more than 21 points just once over that span, and may be without Tyler Boyd heading into this game.

The Bengals were stomped on their home field by the Browns four weeks ago 35-20 and now they have to visit the Dawg Pound where Cleveland is 4-2-1 this year, falling just to the LA Chargers and Kansas City. Cleveland is 4-1 SU and ATS in its last five games with an average winning margin of 8.5.