It’s the Buckeye Bowl this week as the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns meet on Monday Night Football. Oddsmakers at Caesars Sportsbook have the Bengals at -3 as a road favorite, with the Over/Under at 45 points. Sports bettors can get a $1,250 First Bet when they use Caesars Promo Code STARTFULL.
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Cincinnati Bengals (-3) at Cleveland Browns
Who are the Browns? The team that started the season 2-1, with a promising offense and a “bend-don’t-break” defense? Or are they the team that’s lost four consecutive games while allowing 28.5 points per?
The last four games have been U-G-L-Y for the Browns as they enter the first of their two games against division and state rival, the Bengals.
Remember when the Bengals came within three points of winning the Super Bowl last February? That seems like ancient franchise history, just one of three Super Bowl defeats for the team in the orange and black striped helmets. But, it’s floating over this team and coaching staff like a looming reminder of what they aspire to now, but can’t seem to focus on.
Cincinnati lost their first two games in crushing fashion, and all three of their defeats have come by a combined eight points. Now resting at 4-3, coach Zac Taylor and his team are entering a four-week stretch where they should get three wins and a bye. Given how well the defense has played this season (only three opponents have scored as many as 20 points), Taylor must like his chances to lead his team into a playoff position.
For the Browns to win this game straight up, it’s going to take their defensive unit to step up. So far, Cleveland ranks 23rd in the NFL in rushing yards allowed, and no NFL team has surrendered more than the 13 TDs the Browns have on the ground. The D has six takeaways, including just one interception.
That seems to mean Cincy quarterback Joe Burrow might find himself handing the ball off frequently to running back Joe Mixon, who carries (literally) a larger portion of the running attack than any other RB in the game. Of the 139 running plays handled by backs for the Bengals, 121 have been in the hands of Mixon.
Still, the Bengals like to (or are forced to) go to the air when they reach the end zone. Cincinnati has only scored on the ground five times, three of them sneaks by Burrow. No, the Bengals typically see their QB have to put the ball in the air to a tight end or wideout close to the end zone. That might make it easier for an undermanned Cleveland defense to keep the score down.
We see this game ending on a kick, and with a final margin of three or fewer points. Take the three points and wager on the Browns at home. Your first bet will be risk-free because Caesars will return your wager amount (up to $1,250) in free betting credits if it loses.