TNF: Bengals vs. Browns odds, picks & predictions (Sept. 17)
The second Thursday Night Football matchup of the 2020 NFL season features Joe Burrow’s Cincinnati Bengals against the Cleveland Browns.
The Browns head in as six-point favorites against Cincinnati, who nearly claimed a victory in Week 1 but succumbed to bad luck on the final drive.
Fri, September 18 2020, 12:20 AM
Cincinnati bungles Week 1 win
At home against the Los Angeles Chargers, rookie Burrow led the Bengals offense down the field to L.A.’s three-yard line as the clock wound down. A newly healthy A.J. Green then hauled in a pass in the end zone for what would have been a touchdown, had he not been called for offensive pass interference.
With seven seconds remaining, the Bengals settled for a 31-yard field-goal attempt that sailed wide right and left the Chargers with a 16-13 win.
It was the type of Bengals loss the fanbase has become accustomed to, although Burrow, the 2020 No. 1 draft pick, did spark hope for the future.
Burrow showed promise in his debut
The former LSU quarterback displayed some issues in his debut, but he also showed composure under pressure on the final possession of his first professional game.
Overall, the Heisman winner completed 23-of-36 passes for 193 yards and got sacked three times. He also threw an interception on 1st-and-10 in LA territory with about five minutes left in the fourth quarter, when Melvin Ingram picked off an ill-advised shovel pass.
Burrow failed to score through the air on Sunday, but he did run the ball 23 yards into the end zone for his first NFL touchdown.
On Thursday, he’ll go up against another Heisman winner and first overall draft pick in Baker Mayfield. Against the Ravens on Sunday, Mayfield didn’t look much better than Burrow, although in fairness the Browns played the Baltimore Ravens, a much steeper test than the Chargers.
Stefanski hasn't eliminated Browns' issues, yet
Cleveland scored just once in the first quarter on a one-yard pass from Mayfield to tight end David Njoku.
After that, the Browns floundered. Mayfield went 21-of-39 for 189 yards and one score. His lone interception came on the opening series.
He wasn’t the only Brown who made costly mistakes. Punter Jamie Gillan fumbled the ball on a fake punt attempt — from the Browns’ 31-yard line — in the first quarter. Then, in the second half, running back Nick Chubb lost a fumble that Baltimore recovered on Cleveland’s 20-yard line. Two minutes later, the Ravens were up 38-6.
In head coach Kevin Stefanski’s first game with Cleveland, his offense hardly looked like the one he successfully ran in Minnesota a year ago.
The Browns were 3-of-12 on third down, 0-of-3 on fourth down, and committed eight penalties for a loss of 80 yards.
Squaring off with the Bengals defense on Thursday should give Cleveland more room to experiment and adjust to Stefanksi’s new offense.
The Browns and Bengals both ranked in the bottom 10 in total offensive yards in Week 1, with 306 and 295, respectively. They also both landed in the bottom five in passing yards, while Cleveland was far more successful in the ground game (138 yards against Baltimore).
The Bengals surrendered 155 rushing yards against the Chargers Sunday and should leave holes for Chubb and Kareem Hunt to gain significant yardage.
The Browns also held the Ravens’ dangerous rushing attack to 107 yards and kept Mark Ingram to just 29 yards on 10 carries. The Bengals got 69 yards out of Joe Mixon on 19 attempts, while Burrow ran eight times for 46 yards.
Burrow proved at LSU he can throw the ball, but on Sunday he missed on two would-be touchdown passes to John Ross and A.J. Green. Rookie mistakes can certainly be corrected, and if Burrow’s passes are sharper on Thursday, he’ll keep the Bengals in a close game.
Nonetheless, the Browns have an excellent opportunity to find their rhythm and run up and down FirstEnergy Stadium.
Bengals vs. Browns betting trends
The favorite is 8-2 against the spread in the last 10 meetings between the Bengals and Browns, while the Under is 5-1-1 in the last seven meetings in Cleveland.
The Under is also 4-1-1 in the Bengals’ last six Thursday games, while the Under is 5-0 in the Browns last five on Thursday.
Look for Cleveland to control the tempo and force Burrow to play through the air. The Browns’ run game will make the difference and put the team over by at least a touchdown.
Score prediction: Browns 24, Bengals 17