Sunday NFL Odds, Picks, Predictions: Browns vs. Bengals Betting Preview for Week 9
Jason Miller/Getty Images. Pictured: Baker Mayfield.
- Updated Browns vs. Bengals odds list Cincinnati as a 2-point home favorite, down a half point from yesterday.
- The total has stood pat at 47.5 -- which is the betting angle we're playing in this game.
- Get our full Browns vs. Bengals preview and betting pick below.
Browns vs. Bengals Odds
|Time||1 p.m. ET|
|Odds via DraftKings. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.|
A disappointing 1-3 stretch for the Browns culminated in storybook drama due to Odell Beckham Jr.’s frustration. Cleveland promptly reacted and OBJ was off the team by the end of the week. Paying someone $6.5 million to play somewhere else is not optimal, but it could pay off for the Browns. Last season when Backham went down, Cleveland’s offense dialed in and looked excellent. The Browns will need that to be the case once more as they face one of the NFL’s hottest young offenses.
After a complete throttling of the Ravens, the Bengals showed the downside of a team new to winning and lost to the lowly Jets. We have seen this pattern all year from the Bengals: Beat Minnesota in OT, lay an egg against the Bears, push around the Steelers, fall behind 21-7 to the Jags. The good news for this matchup though is Cincinnati has won both of its games following a loss of at least two touchdowns. We will see if the Bengals can continue that trend against their in-state rivals who need a win.
The tight race for the AFC North and wild-card spots makes this a key game for both teams. Given the importance of this matchup and both teams’ inconsistencies, staying away from the spread is the way to go. Let’s take a deeper dive to see if we can find value on the total though.
Click the arrow to expand injury reports
Browns vs. Bengals Injury Report
- OT Jack Conklin (elbow): Out
- DE Jadeveon Clowney (ankle/knee/hip): Questionable
- DE Takkarist McKinley (groin): Questionable
- CB Denzel Ward (hamstring): Questionable
- WR Donovan Peoples-Jones (groin): Questionable
- TE Harrison Bryant (thigh): Questionable
- HB Chris Evans (hamstring): Questionable
- EDGE Cam Sample (knee): Questionable
- WR Auden Tate (thigh): Questionable
Browns vs. Bengals Matchup
|Browns Offense||DVOA Rank||Bengals Defense|
|Browns Defense||DVOA Rank||Bengals Offense|
|Football Outsiders’ DVOA measures efficiency by comparing a team’s success on every play to the league average based on situation and opponent.|
Browns Passing Game Isn’t Biggest Problem
The good news amidst the release of Beckham for the Browns is the blame game of whose fault it is has ended. Hopefully, this has cleared the air and the offense can play more relaxed. At 4-4 with only one team currently under .500 on their remaining schedule, they will need that to be the case.
Per DVOA, the Browns have maintained a top-five offense thanks to the league’s best rushing attack. It has not mattered who has been running the ball either as all four of the Browns running backs are averaging over 5.0 yards per carry.
As for the passing attack, the Browns sitting at 15th in DVOA is a surprise considering four of their five receivers have a passer rating under 90 when targeted. The only one over that mark is Donovan Peoples-Jones (questionable for Week 9), who has a perfect 158.3 passer rating when targeted. Peoples-Jones stood out in training camp and was the talk of the team coming into the year. With a spot on the outside opening, he will have a chance to show his performance to date is no fluke.
While the Browns’ passing game is where all eyes will be to end the year, it is not the area they need to improve the most. Cleveland’s biggest problems have come from failing in high-leverage plays. On fourth down, the Browns have gone for it the third-most in the league, but have the 24th-ranked conversion rate at 39%. Cleveland also struggles in the red zone as it has converted 15 of its 27 trips into touchdowns, ranking 23rd. This offense will need to play better in these key moments if it hopes to overcome the tough remaining schedule.
Defensively, the Browns have the same problem. They rank third in yards allowed per game and fifth in yards allowed per drive. However, they are 30th in turnovers forced and 26th in both fourth-down conversion rate and red-zone touchdown rate. The Browns can hold teams to limited yardage outputs, but if Cleveland doesn’t convert in the biggest moments, the Browns will continue to struggle in close games.
Will Bengals Defense Rebound From Last Week?
In the first three games, Cincinnati relied on the run to carry its offense, as it had the fourth-lowest pass-run ratio when the score was within a touchdown. However, the Bengals quickly adapted after seeing the success of Joe Burrow and this passing attack. In the past three weeks, they are up to the second-highest pass-run ratio, per Sharp Football Stats.
Turning to the passing game more would not be possible without standout rookie Ja’Marr Chase. We saw this team struggle at converting through the air last year, particularly on deep passes — the only difference was that Chase was not there. Now, the rookie is blowing by defenders and forcing the defense to focus on him.
Last week the Jets did a good job of dedicating resources to stopping Chase and were able to hold him to three catches for 32 yards. It will be up to Joe Burrow to find secondary options when teams focus on stopping Chase. Fortunately, the Bengals have pretty good receivers behind Chase. Tee Higgins flashed potential last year with 907 yards, and Tyler Boyd has two years with over 1,000 yards.
Defensively, the Bengals are getting a bad rap when it comes to DVOA. Cincinnati did have an atrocious game last week, and since it was against the Jets, DVOA punishes it extra hard. PFF holds the Bengals accountable for the blunder but still has them graded 12th. This week will be a test though to see if the Jets game is the exception or the rule.
New York gashed the Bengals by feeding its backs and receivers with quick hits and letting them operate in space. Jets running backs Michael Carter and Ty Johnson combined for 14 catches for 166 yards and a touchdown. The Browns’ strength comes from attacking these same parts of the field just on the ground and to tight ends instead. We will see if Cincinnati can learn from its mistakes or suffer the consequences once again.
NFL Pick: Browns vs. Bengals
We have seen Baker Mayfield excel the most with a chip on his shoulder. In his rookie season, he started as the backup and was forced to wait for his opportunity. Then, last season he was an underdog who lost his best receiver when he took his play to the next level. This year I expect the Odell Beckham Jr. drama to fuel him. The fuel may not last until the end of the year, but it should last long enough for the media to blame Beckham.
Against Cincinnati’s new pass-happy attack, Mayfield will likely be forced to throw. The Browns have played four teams that are top 10 in pass yards per game, and only the Vikings struggled to move the ball. Cleveland’s top corner, Denzel Ward, has had trouble in coverage this year, ranking 63rd, per PFF. He will likely be responsible for slowing Ja’Marr Chase, which could spell trouble.
A fired-up Mayfield and an aggressive Bengals team makes the over the angle to take.
Pick: Over 47 | Bet to: 49.5
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