Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns 9/17/20 NFL Picks, Predictions, Betting Tips, Week 2
Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Date: 8 p.m., Thursday, September 17, 2020
Location: FirstEnergy Stadium, Cleveland, OH
TV: NFL Network
Odds/Point Spread: Cleveland -7.5
It looks like Cincinnati and Cleveland drew the short straw, as two of the worst organizations in the NFL will be forced to play the first short-week game of the season.
The NFL is famous for using its Thursday night games as an opportunity to feature teams in games fans otherwise wouldn’t care about. This game is a prime example. But just because the Bengals-Browns matchup is one that won’t have any long-lasting impact on the AFC that doesn’t mean that it is a game without any storylines.
For the Bengals, this will be the first primetime game for rookie quarterback Joe Burrow. Cincinnati’s No. 1 overall pick and anointed franchise savior will be playing his second game in the first four days of the season, his first divisional game, and his first-ever NFL road game.
For Cleveland, it will be an opportunity to show fans and bettors whether or not last season’s grotesque underachievement is thing of the past or if this is the same bumbling Browns squad that we’ve enjoyed laughing at for the past two-plus decades.
The Browns will have the home field advantage in this game. Though it remains to be seen whether or not fans will be allowed in NFL stadiums. An empty Dog Pound will take some of the bite out of Cleveland’s nominal home edge.
Cleveland will also be just four days removed from what should be a tough, physical game against Baltimore. Teams usually don’t leave unscathed after enduring rock fights with the Ravens. And the Browns won’t have much time to ice up and tend to their wounds before being faced with a second divisional game to start the season.
This quick turnaround is also an early test for rookie coach Kevin Stefanski. The former Minnesota offensive coordinator is in his first year as a head coach. He’ll be tasked with formulating and executing two game plans for two different opponents within the first few days of the 2020 season.
Cincinnati blasted the Browns in the last meeting, earning a 33-23 win last year in Week 17. That game was a microcosm of Cleveland’s disappointing 2019 campaign, with sacks, turnovers and a general lack of discipline undercutting their talent advantage. The Bengals ran the ball down Cleveland’s throat in that matchup, churning out 179 yards on 39 carries using that edge to stake a nearly 10 minute time of possession advantage.
I expect the Bengals to return to that run-first strategy in this game. Cincinnati will be wise to test that Browns defense to see if they’ve made any adjustments under new coordinator Joe Woods. Trying to run the ball and control the clock will also help to protect Cincinnati’s rookie quarterback.
The Bengals have clearly had the upper hand in this series, going 8-3 straight up and 9-2 against the spread in the last 11 meetings. The Bengals are on a 4-9 ATS slide entering the season but Cleveland hasn’t exactly been a cash cow for backers over the last five seasons.
The ‘under’ has gone 5-3 in the last eight Week 2 Thursday night games. I think that both of these teams are going to have some rust and are going to have some issues. I also think that both teams will lean on the running game early in the season until the rookie quarterback and rookie head coach get comfortable with their surroundings. I like the Browns to win by blowout, but I think that more value is on the ‘under’ here.
Who will win the Bengals/Browns NFL game against the spread?
Robert Ferringo’s Pick: Take ‘Under’ 46.0 with a lean on Cleveland (-7.5).
NOTE: Robert made these picks and predictions in June. Things can and will change in the four months between May and September. These May predictions may or may not match his rated Week 2 picks released to his clients on Thursday, Sept. 17.
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