Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)
The Browns are 0-12 and probably the worst team in the league right now, but they have a pretty decent shot at getting their first win of the season this week, for three reasons. For one, they’re coming off of their bye week. Bye weeks have proven very valuable for winless teams in the past. Since 1989, 19 teams have gone into their bye week with a record of 0-5 or worse. Of those 19 teams, 11 have won their first game off of the bye week and 16 of them have covered against the spread, 16-2-1 ATS.
The second reason why the Browns have a shot this week is the return of Robert Griffin. Griffin has proven to be very frail throughout his career, but he’s undoubtedly the most talented quarterback on the roster and he spent the whole off-season as the starter. I have no idea if he’s 100% in his first week off the injury, but his return should be valuable for this team, as they’ve played 4 other quarterbacks in his absence. The third reason is the Bengals aren’t a very imposing opponent without wide receiver AJ Green and running back Giovani Bernard, both of whom are out with injury.
The Bengals got a big home win last week against the Eagles, but the Eagles were missing their top-2 skill position players and have not played well at all offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson with a suspension. The Bengals also were in a great spot last week, as they had this upcoming “easy” game on the schedule, but this week they’re in a very tough spot with a home clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers on deck. Road favorites are 51-71 ATS since 2002 before being home underdogs. The Bengals’ 18 point win over the Eagles last week shifted this line from 3.5 on the early line last week all the way to 6, so I like the Browns’ chances of at least keeping this game close and covering the spread, even if they don’t win their first game of the season. The money line isn’t a bad bet either this week.
Cleveland Browns 24 Cincinnati Bengals 23 Upset Pick +210
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +6