It’s an old-school AFC North battle on Monday night when the Cincinnati Bengals face the Cleveland Browns. However, the Bengals will be short-handed after it was announced this past week that star receiver Ja’Marr Chase is out for at least a month with a hip injury.
Even without Chase, the Bengals are laying a field goal on the road. The Browns come in at 2-5 and losers of four straight games. Cleveland’s record is a bit misleading, though. Four of the Browns’ five losses have come by three points or less. If a couple of plays went differently, Cleveland could be sitting here with a winning record heading Week 8.
The key for the Browns to succeed on offense is running the football. Nick Chubb has been held under 100 yards in two straight games, and Cleveland won’t be successful if it needs to lean on quarterback Jacoby Brissett. The Browns might not need to against a Bengals defense, allowing 119 rushing yards per game.
There is no question the Bengals become easier to defend without Chase in the lineup. Defenses can now pay more attention to Tee Higgins, who often feasts on single coverage playing opposite Chase. Cleveland’s defense struggles to stop the run but ranks a respectable 14th against the pass. With the Bengals’ offensive line issues, this looks like a good matchup for the Browns on paper.
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This line shows too much respect for Cincinnati’s blowout win over Atlanta last week. I think it should be closer to even, so I’ll take the three points with the home dog.
Browns vs. Bengals pick
Browns +3.5 (BetMGM)