Week 8 of the NFL regular season will wrap up with a Monday Night Football matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns. Bragging rights in Ohio and division standings will be on the line when these two AFC North foes square off.
The Bengals (4-3) had a rough start to the season, but the defending AFC champs have seemingly put it together of late. They have won four of their last five games, and are coming off a 35-17 drubbing of the Atlanta Falcons last weekend.
Zac Taylor has utilized more shotgun formations recently, and quarterback Joe Burrow appears to be cooking again. Burrow has thrown for six touchdowns and 781 yards over his last two outings, completing at least 75% of his passes in each of those two games. Burrow will be without star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, however, as his former LSU teammate is now sidelined with a hip injury.
That is obviously a break for the Browns, who are 2-5 on the year and have dropped four in a row entering this week’s matchup. The Browns have only scored more than 20 points once over that span, and likely wouldn’t have had the firepower to match a Bengals offense that featured Chase.
Caesars Sportsbook lists the Bengals as a 3-point road favorite with an over/under of 45.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Time/TV: 8:15 p.m. ET Monday, ESPN
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Bengals -3 (-120)
Money line: Bengals -165/Browns +140
Analysis: After Chase was ruled out for this week’s game, the spread moved from 3½ down to the key number of 3 (-120) on Thursday. But is there a chance it didn’t move enough?
Non-quarterbacks aren’t supposed to have a huge impact on the line, but Chase is a serious weapon and has hit the ground running since entering the NFL. Chase has recorded at least seven receptions in each of his last three games, logging 22 catches (33 targets) for 312 yards and four touchdowns over that span.
The Bengals still have plenty of weapons, including receiver Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon. But it is hard to argue that a defensive game plan didn’t get a little bit easier for the Browns, who are giving up 26.6 points per game so far this season.
As a result, the Browns are live to win on Monday Night Football in a game featuring two division rivals. A spread of three points or higher is certainly worth a look on the home underdog, though the under might prove to be the better play in the end.
Prediction: Bengals 21, Browns 20