Bragging rights in Ohio will be on the line in this week’s AFC North matchup between the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals. Kickoff is slated for 1 p.m. ET on Sunday at Paycor Stadium in Cincinnati.
The Bengals are coming off a huge win, knocking off the Kansas City Chiefs at home in a 27-24 thriller. It marked the third time in the last calendar year that Joe Burrow and Co. have defeated Patrick Mahomes and the Chiefs. It also snapped Kansas City’s 26-game win streak in November and December.
All of a sudden, the Bengals are serious contenders in the AFC and the favorite to secure the AFC North crown. They are 8-4 and have won four games in a row, a stretch that includes road victories over the Tennessee Titans and Pittsburgh Steelers. If all this sounds familiar, that’s because the Bengals got hot at the right time en route to a Super Bowl appearance just last season.
Standing in Cincinnati’s way this week, Cleveland enters this matchup with a 5-7 record. Quarterback Deshaun Watson made his return after serving an 11-game suspension to begin the year, but the offense played a minimal role in the Browns’ 27-14 win over the Houston Texans. With some rust shaken off, perhaps Cleveland can play spoiler this week in Cincinnati.
Caesars Sportsbook lists the Bengals as a 6-point home favorite with an over/under of 47.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Time/TV: 1 p.m. ET Sunday, CBS
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Bengals -6
Money line: Browns +215/Bengals -267
Analysis: This would appear to be a perfect buy-low, sell-high opportunity between two division foes trending in opposite directions. The Bengals are scorching hot after knocking the Chiefs out of the No. 1 seed in the AFC last week, while the Browns failed to score on offense in a win over the worst team in the league.
Watson and this Cleveland offense will have to play much better to have any shot this week. In his first start in over 700 days, Watson went 12-for-22 for 131 yards and one interception. The Browns managed just 14 first downs and were held to 304 total yards of offense.
The Bengals have enough firepower to put away the Browns, particularly with how well Burrow has been playing. The third-year quarterback is an MVP candidate, throwing for eight touchdowns and over 1,100 yards during this four-game win streak. Burrow is second in the league with 3,446 passing yards on the year.
Cleveland earned a 32-13 win over Cincinnati on Monday Night Football the last time these two teams met back on Oct. 31. The Bengals have yet to lose since then, and they should keep it rolling by winning the rematch at home.
Prediction: Bengals 28, Browns 20