Just four days after their Sunday game against the Jaguars, the Bengals find themselves scheduled for a Thursday Night Football contest against the division-rival Browns. A few patterns stick out in predicting the outcome.
First is the Bengals' lack of successful ventures in primetime games. The second is the team's apparent egg that they always seem to lay against Cleveland at some point during the year.
However, as Cincinnati plays host to their in-state competition, I would expect the team to buck both of those trends. I can only say that a playoff team, and at that - one that wants to finally break through into the NFL's annual elites, can't drop games to the Browns, no matter how well they're doing this year.
Cleveland doesn't have their best weapon at receiver in Josh Gordon, as the troubled star is serving a suspension. In fact, the only real proven receiving talent on offense would be the pro tight end, Jordan Cameron, and former Bengal Andrew Hawkins.
Otherwise, you're looking at players yet to prove themselves, and nonetheless, with a quarterback situation lacking the black and white future that Cleveland so desperately needs. Brian Hoyer has the ability to demonstrate his experience in coordinating a solid offensive outing, but, at times, he can be inconsistent. Much of this game may depend on which Hoyer shows up.
Even on short rest, the Bengals should have no problem avoiding the letdown at home. They are the superior team, talent-wise, and while the Bengals haven't had too many problems on offense, the defense has an opportunity to step in during the first edition of the battle of Ohio.
Cincinnati needs to find ways to win games on primetime television, and starting here with a team they hold the advantage over, could be a good start to finding a groove of comfort when put in that position. Bengals fans are tired of being disappointed with their team on the larger stages, so it's time to kill that pattern.
Win, and the team gets a morale boost heading into extra time off before facing New Orleans in a tough matchup. Lose, and they just have extra time to experience the bitter taste of letting Cleveland get the better of them. I expect the former of the two options.
Prediction: Bengals win a close one, 23-16
How to Watch
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Announcers: Jim Nantz, Phil Simms, Tracy Wolfson
Cincinnati is favored by 6.5 points at home over Cleveland, with an over/under of 45, according to OddsShark.
Further Reading on the Enemy
For more info on the Browns, head over to Dawgs By Nature.