Cleveland Browns (2-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-0)
The Bengals are 7-0 for the first time in franchise history and are one of four remaining undefeated teams. Their undefeated season is highly unlikely to end this week, as they’re favored by 10 at home against the lowly Browns. I actually don’t think that line is high enough, as the Bengals rank 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential, while the Browns rank all the way down at 27. This is a matchup between one of the worst teams in the league and one of the best teams in the league and I don’t think this line quite reflects that. I have this line calculated at around 15.
That’s before we even get into these two teams’ respective injury situations. The Bengals have a couple of starters who will likely miss this game because of injury, linebacker Rey Maualuga and right tackle Andre Smith, but the Browns will likely be missing quarterback Josh McCown, wide receiver Brian Hartline, wide receiver Andrew Hawkins, cornerback Joe Haden, and safety Donte Whitner. On their own, none of those injuries are too damaging to this team (Haden and Whitner are having down years), but they all add up. The biggest one might be the one to their quarterback McCown. McCown isn’t very good, but Manziel is probably even worse and the task of preparing for a team like the Bengals, on the road, on a short week when you’ve had very little practice time with the first team is borderline impossible, especially with some receivers also missing with injury.
The Bengals are also in a great spot with no upcoming distractions on the horizon, hosting the Texans next week. The Browns, meanwhile, have to turn around and go to Pittsburgh next week. The Bengals will undoubtedly be favored by 6+ again, while the Browns undoubtedly will be underdogs of 6+ again. Teams are 77-39 ATS since 2012 as favorites of 6+ about being favorites of 6+ again, while underdogs of 6+ are 40-63 ATS since 2012 before being underdogs of 6+ again. Combining the two, teams are 35-13 ATS as favorites of 6+ before being favorites of 6+ when their opponent will be underdogs of 6+ again the following week, since 2010. There’s just too much for the Browns to overcome this week and, without a ton of public money on Cincinnati, I’m really confident in the Bengals as 10 point favorites. There are a few other lines I really like this week, but this one is definitely up there.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 Cleveland Browns 10
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -10