NFL Week 10 kicks off with Thursday Night Football, as Cincinnati Bengals play host the Cleveland Browns in the annual Battle of Ohio.
Sitting at 5-2-1 Bengals atop the AFC North,. the Bengals are coming off a 33-23 victory over the Jacksonville Jaguars, who happen to be the last team to beat the Browns. That was the only blemish in an otherwise great month for Cleveland. The Browns went 3-1 in October, including a blowout 31-10 win over the Pittsburgh Steelers. Cleveland has won four of its past five games, and enter this game at 5-3 with a chance to climb atop the AFC North.
Last year, the two Ohio teams split the season series while each team won at home. However, Browns starting quarterback Brian Hoyer did not start in the second game after winning the first matchup in Week 4, 17-6. After tearing his ACL in Week 5, Hoyer missed the Week 11 rematch, which Cleveland lost by a 41-20 margin.
So what do the experts think about this in-state matchup?
Here's what Bengals bear writer Coley Harvey and Browns beat writer Pat McManamon at ESPN.com had to say:
McManamon also offered this reasoning as to why Cincinnati will win this game:
Two stats might seem to favor the Bengals: Cincinnati is 13-0-1 in its last 14 at Paul Brown Stadium, and the Browns haven't won an AFC North road game since September 2008, a streak of road futility that has lasted 17 games. Then again, those numbers could easily be flipped to say the Browns are due. Streaks have to end sometime, right? The game feels like it should go Cincinnati's way. The Bengals are big-game tested, they have been in the playoffs, and they have guys playing in the same system the past several years. But the numbers show that the Bengals are giving up more yards per game, more points per game and the same amount of rushing yards per game as the Browns. Sometimes games come down to emotion and feel, though, and the Bengals playing at home on a Thursday night are not an easy draw. The intangibles add up to a Bengals win.
Bengals 24, Browns 20
Marc Sessler of NFL.com notes how the loss of Alex Mack has crippled the Browns offense:
The Browns haven't been the same on offense since losing Alex Mack to a broken fibula back in Week 6. Minus their Pro Bowl center, Cleveland's once-promising ground attack is rushing for 1.9 yards per carry against a steady stream of eight-man looks. Butchered by Bucs behemoth Gerald McCoy last Sunday, fill-in center Nick McDonald currently grades out as the second-worst player at his position, per Pro Football Focus. Slated to square off with Bengals defensive terror Geno Atkins on Thursday, it's no overstatement to call this matchup the key to Cleveland's night.
The entire CBS crew went with Cincinnati in an 8-0 sweep, with Pete Prisco picking the home team, 26-13. He offered up this reasoning:
"This is actually a big game for both teams. The Bengals lead the division, but the Browns are 5-3. Cleveland has beaten up on Oakland and Tampa Bay. This is a big step up for the Browns in competition. And it will show. The Bengals win a prime-time game behind their defense."
The SB Nation staff mostly agreed, with all but one expert siding with the Bengals.
Cincinnati is favored by 6.5 points at home over Cleveland, with an over/under of 45, according to OddsShark.