Cincinnati Bengals (0-3) at Cleveland Browns (0-3)
After not scoring a touchdown in either of their first 2 games, the Bengals nearly beat the Packers in Green Bay last week, taking a 21-7 lead early before eventually losing in overtime. The Browns, meanwhile, blew their first opportunity to be road favorites since 2007, losing 31-28 in Indianapolis in a game in which they got down 28-7 early. As a result, this line has shifted from 1.5 in favor of the visiting Bengals on the early line to 3 this week.
Ordinarily, I like to go against significant line movements like that, but I think this line is about right. The Bengals’ offense is better than it looked when they were held without a touchdown by 2 of the better defenses in the league (Baltimore and Houston) and they now have a new playcaller with Ken Zampese getting relieved of his duties after week 2. Green Bay was missing several key players in that near loss, but the Bengals should still be pleased with their progress, as taking the Packers to overtime in Lambeau is not easy feat as long as Aaron Rodgers in healthy. They’ll have offensive issues all year because of their offensive line, but they have an underrated defense and they’re definitely better than their record suggests.
The Browns, meanwhile, have major issues, as they are missing arguably their three best front 7 players with injuries. Linebacker Jamie Collins will miss his 2nd straight game. Defensive end Myles Garrett will miss his 4th straight game. And defensive tackle Danny Shelton will join them on the sideline for the first time. Without those three, the Browns have arguably the worst defense in the entire league. I have these two teams about 6 points apart in my roster rankings, so this line is about right. I’m taking the Browns for one reason only and that’s because the public is betting heavily on Cincinnati, but this is maybe my lowest confidence pick of the week. A push seems like a good possibility as well, as about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal.
Cincinnati Bengals 20 Cleveland Browns 17
Pick against the spread: Cleveland +3