Bengals vs Browns Pick, Odds, Prediction | NFL Week 1
Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow (left) and Nick Chubb (right).
Bengals vs Browns Odds
Bengals vs. Browns odds have Cincinnati installed as a slight home favorite in this NFL Week 1 matchup.
Once again the Bengals enter with Super Bowl aspirations behind Joe Burrow. After their season ended in devastating fashion against the Chiefs, they start with a potentially difficult road divisional matchup.
Let's break down the game and make our Bengals vs. Browns pick.
The talk of the town is Joe Burrow’s status ahead of the season opener. While he emphatically said he was ‘ready to go’ after logging a full practice on Wednesday, how healthy he is remains in question.
For the second straight season, Burrow has missed the entire preseason. Last year it was a ruptured appendix and this one, it’s a strained calf. That means Week 1 is his first live full-contact action against another team.
The last time Burrow did that? He threw four interceptions in an overtime loss to the Mitch Trubisky-led Steelers.
While expected to play, it’s important to be mindful of his mobility. Burrow has the third-highest QBR throwing outside the pocket and Cleveland’s new defensive coordinator Jim Schwartz will surely draw up schemes to generate pressure on the quarterback.
Schwartz sticks largely to a four-man defensive line and that’s where the pressure is generated, albeit using different looks and techniques to throw off the offensive line and get to the quarterback. In previous seasons, the DC found plenty of success generating sacks.
Bet Cincinnati vs. Cleveland at FanDuel
Cleveland bolstered its defense in the offseason with the additions of Dalvin Tomlinson and Za’Darius Smith, two players that should have an immediate impact in Week 1. Tomlinson will clog up the middle while Smith poses as an elite pass rusher. He has double-digit sacks in each of his last three seasons when at full health.
That calf injury will constantly be in question and Burrow will have to adjust quickly to what should be an aggressive defensive line led by Myles Garrett. This Cleveland defense took a huge step forward in the offseason and added Juan Thornhill at DB to help shore up the pass defense, too.
Cincinnati’s key offseason addition was tackle Orlando Brown which gives Burrow arguably his best offensive line yet. The Bengals ranked 30th in pass blocking last season, per PFF.
Quarterback questions remain the theme of this Week 1 bout. While Burrow’s is health-related, the Browns have high hopes for Deshaun Watson now that he’s got a full offseason of preparation under his belt. He struggled in his six appearances last season, completing just 58.2% of his passes with seven touchdowns and five interceptions.
I believe the sky's the limit for the Browns. If Watson replicates anything close to his Texans days, this is as well-rounded a team as any and the Super Bowl isn’t out of the question. But if he doesn’t improve from last season, Cleveland could find themselves amid a dumpster fire thanks to that 230 million dollar contract.
Watson does have an elite ground game behind him led by Nick Chubb, who’ll be relied on even more this season, and receives some additional help in the form of Elijah Moore. Receivers were spread far and few between and giving Amari Cooper some help while Donovan Peoples-Jones continues to grow is crucial for this offense to succeed. The line remains intact and among the best in football, finishing last year seventh in pass block and eighth in run block, per PFF.
Watson has the opportunity to exploit a new-look Cincinnati secondary that loses Jessie Bates, Vonn Bell and Eli Apple. While Nick Scott has been signed to take over at safety and they still have Chidobe Awuzie, the Bengals are asking a lot from two second-year DBs in Dax Hill and Cam Taylor-Britt. The latter was thrown into the fire immediately as a rookie.
Bengals vs. Browns
Betting Picks & Predictions
In a Week 1 matchup between two division rivals amid uncertainty, I trust backing the home Browns here. Taking an early lead and leaning on Chubb should be no issue, and Cleveland’s bolstered defensive line should be able to attack the Bengals and disrupt Burrow’s rhythm in his first live-game action since their AFC Championship loss to Kansas City.
For what it’s worth, Week 1 divisional underdogs are 61% ATS since 2005. That 3 number is never coming, grab the points and join the Dawg Pound.
Pick: Browns +2 | Down to PK