The Cincinnati Bengals will look to get back to their winning ways when the struggling Cleveland Browns come to the Queen City.
This week’s 86th renewal of the Battle of Ohio will feature a homecoming of sorts. The rebuilding Browns are winless under new head coach Hue Jackson, who spent seven seasons (2004-06 and 2012-15) coaching in Cincinnati during two stints.
Most recently, he was the Bengals offensive coordinator from 2014-15. In his most recent four-year stint with Cincinnati, he helped the Bengals to two division titles and a trip to the postseason all four seasons.
The historic series between the Bengals and the Browns, set to resume at Paul Brown Stadium, features two teams looking to turn their fading seasons around. Sitting at 0-6, the Browns are looking to avoid their worst start to a season since 1999.
But don’t let the lack of wins fool you. Cleveland has been rampaged by injuries and still been competitive, including at Tennessee last week, rallying from a 28-13 fourth-quarter deficit before falling 28-26.
While Cleveland is just looking for respectability, Cincinnati is looking to get back to the postseason. However, the Bengals are 2-4 with a two-game losing streak following last week’s 35-17 setback at New England. Their bid for a sixth straight playoff season will require a strong finish over their next 10 games, which begins with a very winnable game at home in Week 7.
Odds and Trends
The Bengals lead 46-39 in the Battle of Ohio and have won the last three games. Home-field advantage has been key the series, as the Bengals lead 28-15 at home but trail 18-24 as the road club.
The Bengals have won 17 of the last 23 meetings and lead 18-8 in games during the Marvin Lewis era, including 10-3 at home. All of this helps explain why the Bengals enter Week 7 as one of the biggest favorites.
Cincinnati is currently a 10.5-point favorite in a league where it’s rare you see a team ever favored by double digit points. Here are some recent betting trends, courtesy of OddsShark.
Cincinnati is 1-5-2 against the spread in its last 8 games
Cincinnati is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games
Cincinnati is 1-3-1 against the spread in its last 5 games at home
Cincinnati is 17-7-1 straight up in its last 25 games at home
Cincinnati is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games when playing Cleveland
Cincinnati is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games when playing Cleveland
Cleveland is 4-12-1 against the spread in its last 17 games
Cleveland is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games
The total has gone over in 4 of Cleveland's last 5 games
Cleveland is 3-6 against the spread in its last 9 games on the road
Cleveland is 0-5 straight up in its last 5 games on the road
The total has gone under in 6 of Cleveland's last 9 games on the road
The total has gone under in 5 of Cincinnati's last 6 games when playing Cleveland
Cincinnati is 6-1 straight up in its last 7 games when playing at home against Cleveland
The total has gone under in 6 of Cincinnati's last 9 games when playing at home against Cleveland
Most experts think the Bengals will win handily against their in-state rival.
- All nine of ESPN's pickers prognosticators who have submitted their picks think the Bengals will win,
- Seven of CBS's eight analysts agree by picking Cincinnati to score a home win.
- Nine of the 10 experts at SB Nation also think the Bengals will win.
- FOX Sports' experts sided with Cincinnati by a 5-1 margin, including the WhatIfSports projections, which have the home team winning 28-21.
- All five USA Today Sports experts sided with Cincinnati.
- NFL Picks Watch, which accounts for all of the picks across various websites, has the Patriots getting 93 percent of picks as of the time this story was published.
It’s safe to say the Bengals are heavy favorites this week, which seems fair all things considered. Even though Cincinnati is 2-4, they’ve had ‘good’ losses to playoff contenders like Pittsburgh, Dallas, and New England on the road.
That’s not even accounting for all of the injuries Cleveland has, which now includes star corner Joe Haden (doubtful for Sunday) and do-it-all receiver Terrell Pryor (questionable for Sunday) possibly being out.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are as healthy as they’ve been this season, and Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert could be returning to the lineup.
All of this is why it would be a major surprise if the Browns win on Sunday.