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Welcome to the Bungle: Reeling Bengals Host Rested Rival Browns

Alex Erickson

After allowing 545 yards of offense per game over the previous three, Cincinnati “held” the Lamar Jackson-led Ravens to 403 yards but couldn’t stop Baltimore’s ground game in a 24-21 road loss. The 6.5 points the Bengals received did come in handy as they covered for the first time in five games to improve to 5-5 against the spread this season.

The Browns entered their Week 10 bye 3-6-1 overall and 6-4 against the spread, but they have failed to cover in two of their past three games. Cleveland is 3-5-2 against the spread in its last 10 games after the bye, with the OVER hitting in three straight.

Cincinnati opened and remains a 3-point home favorite, Cleveland’s moneyline is +145 and the point total is 47.5. Dating back to 2012, the Bengals are 2-7-1 in their last 10 home games when favored by 3 or fewer points. In those games, the UNDER has hit in four of the past five games.

SHARK BITES
  • The Bengals are 13-3 SU in their last 16 games after consecutive losses.
  • The Bengals are 5-1 ATS in their last six games vs divisional opponents.
  • The total has gone OVER in four of the Browns’ last five games after a bye.

Browns vs Bengals Game Center

WHAT WE LEARNED: WEEK 11

Bengals – Cincinnati really misses A.J. Green. With Green active, Andy Dalton has averaged 262.7 pass yards per game. Over the past two games, in losses to the Saints and Ravens, Dalton averaged 182 pass yards. The good news is Green is likely to return from his toe injury this week.

Lamar Jackson and running back Gus Edwards combined for 232 yards on 44 carries against the Bengals rush defense. While Baker Mayfield doesn’t have the mobility of Jackson, Browns rookie running back Nick Chubb is averaging 6.2 yards per carry and carved up the Falcons for 176 yards on 20 carries two weeks ago. Cleveland has the advantage in the run department this week.

Browns – When you go back and analyze how the Browns beat the Falcons two weeks ago, it comes down to three facets: the rush offense, forced turnovers and the opposition’s inability to convert on third down. Chubb ran all over a bad defense and will have another opportunity this week. The Browns forced two more turnovers, scored seven points off of them and boast a plus-12 margin this season. Opponents have converted only 36.8 percent of their third downs against Cleveland this season, which ranks the Browns inside the top 10.

NEXT LEVEL TRENDS: T.O.P. OF THE WORLD

Cincinnati’s defense was so bad in Week 11 that Baltimore possessed the ball for more than 38 minutes. Since 2011, Cincinnati is 4-14-2 straight up and 5-15 against the spread when allowing an opponent to possess the ball for 35 or more minutes and 0-7-2 SU, 2-7 ATS when they possess it for 38 or more minutes since 2012.

Given how well Cleveland’s running the ball, could the Browns steal a page from the Ravens in order to control game flow in Week 12?

CINCINNATI, OHIO FORECAST

Partly cloudy with temperatures in the mid-50s, 88 percent humidity and 40 percent chance of showers, which are more likely later in the day.

Cincinnati’s Randy Bullock missed his first field-goal attempt since October 7 and that was ultimately the difference in a three-point loss at Baltimore. He’s now 9-for-11 on field goals and 28-for-29 on extra points this season. Cleveland’s Greg Joseph is 11-for-13 on field goals and 10-for-12 on extra points as Cleveland continues to hold its collective breath when the kicking game is called upon.

MY LEAN

Cincinnati has been the home favorite in this matchup in nine of the past 10 meetings dating back to 2008. The Bengals have won and covered three straight home games against the Browns by an average margin of 16.3 points. However, those ATS wins came against a very different Browns squad. This week’s 3-point spread indicates the division foes are evenly matched in 2018, but I believe the potential return of Green provides the Bengals the needed boost to cover the 3. If he’s active, I’m on the Bengals. If he’s not, the Browns could pull off the straight-up road upset against a reeling rival.

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