We haven’t really had an opportunity to see the Cincinnati Bengals operate on offense without their top receiver, Ja’marr Chase. But we think it’s safe to assume that his presence made his fellow receivers more effective.
BetOnline patrons may be wondering how Joe Burrow is going to compensate for the fact that Chase is out of the lineup for the near future with a hip injury. We will find out that answer on Monday night as the Bengals pay a visit to the Cleveland Browns, a team that has had much recent success against them.
Kickoff at FirstEnergy stadium is scheduled for 8:15 p.m. Eastern Time.
As you probably know, these franchises share some of the same roots. Paul Brown practically founded the Browns and brought them to nearly all of their glory competing in the NFL. After he was rather unceremoniously fired by then-owner Art Modell, Brown came back a few years later and formed the Bengals, competing first in the AFL and then moving over after the merger. So this is a blood rivalry; make no bones about it.
And it’s a rivalry in which the Browns have actually dominated lately, winning seven of the last eight meetings. That included a sweep last year over the team that would go on to represent the AFC in the Super Bowl. Cleveland won by scores of 41-16 and 21-16 and obviously dominated the line of scrimmage, gaining 153 and 205 rushing yards, respectively, in those two games.
The Browns hope to have the same kind of success on Monday night, as Nick Chubb, their top tailback, leads the NFL with 740 rushing yards. The Bengals have not been a big success slowing down teams on the ground, averaging 4.6 yards allowed per carry.
In the NFL betting odds that have been posted at best NFL betting sites on this Monday night game by the people at BetOnline, the Bengals are laying points on the road:
Cincinnati Bengals -3 (- 125)
Cleveland Browns + 3 (+ 105)
Over 45 points -113
Under 45 points -107
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One of the things that have to be noted here is that Joe Burrow has been getting progressively better protection from his offensive line. In the first two games, it was a disaster, as he was dumped 13 times. But over these last five games, only eleven sacks for him.
And we are not sure that losing Chase will negatively affect that too much. He will likely just make quicker decisions and might seek out tight-end Hayden Hurst a bit more. We actually wouldn’t be surprised if Cincinnati used Joe Mixon more in the ground game, as well as catching short routes. You have to remember that Cleveland gives up 4.7 yards per rushing attempt, and they have been very soft on the defensive front.
Speaking of defense, Cincinnati has been handicapped by the loss of defensive tackle DJ Reader, especially when it comes to stopping the run. And that will be a problem against Chubb. But it is very hard to complete passes with any consistency against the Cincinnati defense, as they allow only 56.9%. And that is something that will bother Jacoby Brissett, who only has six touchdown passes on the season and has been sacked nine times in the last two games.
Also, take note of the Bengals’ ability to keep things in front of them. They have allowed to just 5.9 yards per pass attempt, which puts them up among the very best defenses in the league. Throw in the fact the teams have been less than 39% successful in scoring touchdowns in the red zone, and you’re going to have a situation where, regardless of how good the Browns are in the backfield, they are going to have a problem scoring points.
What we like about Joe Burrow is the fact that he has been able to demonstrate the ability to thrive even under bad conditions. And in the explosiveness category, there is no comparison. Burrow threw for 481 yards last time out against Atlanta, and while we are not sure he can do anything close to that again, you cannot ignore the fact that Denzel Ward, Cleveland’s best in the secondary, will not be playing in this game.
Fundamentally, and even without Chase, Cincinnati is the better team here. And we feel more confident going with their side, even laying a field goal and a price on the road.
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