Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals
Date: Thursday, November 6th, 2014 Time: 8:30 pm EST TV: NFL Network
Game Line: Cincinnati -6 (from JustBet) Over/Under: 44.5
Thursday NFL analysis: The Cincinnati Bengals host their in-state and division rival Cleveland Browns in a key AFC North matchup on Thursday night from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio.
The Bengals started out the season 3-0 and looked like a true contender in the AFC. They ran into a buzz saw in New England in week 4, and got their doors blown off. The next week they battled a struggling Carolina Panther team to a 37-37 tie. The next week they were dominated at Indianapolis losing 27-0. They have rebounded since that 3 game slump, and have won 2 straight over Baltimore and Jacksonville. Quarterback Andy Dalton is having a respectable year, completing 64% of his passes for 1874 yards with 8 touchdowns and 6 interceptions. A.J. Green made his return last Sunday, and had 44 yards and 1 score. The guy that’s picked up the slack in Green’s absence is Mohamed Sanu, who leads the team in receptions (39) and yards (628). The Bengals have two talented backs in Giovanni Bernard and rookie Jeremy Hill, who have combined for 795 yards rushing and 10 touchdowns. The defense hasn’t been as good as last year, as they are 30th in the league in total defense, allowing 394.8 yards per game and are 17th in the league in scoring defense, allowing 23.3 points per game.
The Browns sit at 5-3 and have won 2 in a row after a 24-6 road loss to Jacksonville. Against the Jaguars, they were coming off a huge 31-10 win over Pittsburgh and were due for a letdown. Their offense is led by veteran Brian Hoyer, who has completed 57% of his passes for 2014 yards and 10 touchdowns with 4 interceptions. Leading the receivers is Andre Hawkins, who has 39 receptions for 504 yards and 1 touchdown. Tight end Jordan Cameron will miss his second straight game Thursday night with a concussion, and his presence on the field will be missed. The Browns have a good number of solid running backs with Ben Tate, Terrance West, and Isaiah Crowell, who have combined for 866 yards rushing and 9 touchdowns. Their defense was thought to be the strength of the team but that hasn’t been the case, as they are ranked 28th in the league in total defense, allowing 391 yards per game, and are struggling against the run allowing 139 yards per game.
I’m laying the points with the Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday night. This will be a highly emotional game for Cincinnati, as defensive tackle Devon Still’s cancer-stricken daughter will be attending the game to watch her father play for the first time. Still’s story has touched many throughout the league, and I feel that the Bengals will be bringing a max effort. Cleveland has been pretty competitive in most of their games this season, but there is one disturbing trend I’ve noticed in the past 3 weeks…They’ve struggled to put points on the board. Since their big win against Pittsburgh, they’ve lost to the lowly Jaguars, struggled against the Oakland Raiders, then escaped past Tampa Bay…that’s 3 of the worst teams in the league, and they were outgained in yardage in all 3 games. Las Vegas linesmakers value different positions; of course the quarterback is the most valuable, but the 2nd most valuable? That would be the center position, and that has something to do with the Browns’ recent struggles as center Alex Mack has been missed after being placed on IR. The team has struggled to run the ball, against Jacksonville they had 69 yards, and then against Oakland they had just 39. Last week against Tampa? Just 50 yards…They are flat out struggling to run the football, and a team that’s struggling on offense and can’t run the football has no shot of keeping up with the Bengals offense. I think the Bengals will have success on offense, and I don’t see this being close at all. Yep, it’s looking like another Thursday night blowout. I’m laying the points with the Bengals on Thursday night; they’ll be emotionally charged and will be the better team on Thursday night.
Free Week 10 Thursday NFL Pick: Cincinnati -6, Over 44.5
Cleveland vs. Cincinnati Score Prediction: Cincinnati 34 – Clevaland 14