With the Cleveland Browns out of playoff contention, Baker Mayfield will sit out their regular-season finale against the Cincinnati Bengals as he prepares to undergo shoulder surgery. Case Keenum will start in his absence, although it’s possible Kevin Stefanski may rest some of his other starters in what is now a meaningless game for Cleveland.
The Bengals, meanwhile, will try to improve their playoff seeding after locking up the AFC North last week. Currently the No. 3 seed, they still have a shot at the No. 1 seed if the Kansas City Chiefs and Tennessee Titans both lose.
Cincinnati will be without top running back Joe Mixon, however, who tested positive for COVID.
With that in mind, let’s see which NFL Week 18 props have the most bang for their buck in this divisional showdown.
Please note that all NFL Week 18 odds and lines are current as of 1:30 p.m. ET on Wednesday, January 5.
Bengals vs Browns Prop Bets: NFL Week 18 Prop Betting Picks
First Team to 15 Points: Bengals (+148) at TwinSpires
Wager: 1 Unit
It’s tempting to go up to 20 here at +215, but depending on the lead and the ineptitude of the Browns, the Bengals, honestly, may not need 20 points.
With this prop, it’s simple, really.
There are two contributing factors.
The first factor is that, even if he doesn’t play the whole game, Joe Burrow should be able to score 15 with ease, unlike Keenum and the Browns. It’s unknown if the Browns will pull more starters out or not, but either way, this Browns team struggled to put up points, totaling just 14 against the Pittsburgh Steelers.
For the other factor, to put it bluntly, I don’t believe the Browns even reach 15 points.
With that in mind and considering Burrow should play some to allow for the Bengals to win this game, it’s easy to take the Bengals here even at the +148 price on our NFL gameday odds. If you want to up this wager to 20 points for the +215 price, I wouldn’t tell you not to.
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Bengals Total Points: Over 20.5 (-125) at FOX Bet
Wager: 1 Unit
When looking through the Bengals total points props, there is quite a disparity going from 20.5 to 22.5. Looking at my “Best Bets" piece for this game, I predicted the Bengals to score about 21.
This prop really follows similar logic to the “First to 15 Points" prop outlined above.
- Read our full Bengals vs Browns Predictions
The Bengals will still be playing for, at the very least, going from the No. 3 seed to the No. 2 seed. Is it unlikely they move up considering the Chiefs are playing the Broncos and the Titans are playing the Houston Texans? It is, but still, if you don’t win, then you definitely won’t advance seeding.
Burrow will come in and play enough to get to a lead. From there, the offense will throttle as Brandon Allen and the backups come in, cashing our NFL bet of the day with ease.
Winning Margin: Bengals 7-12 (+470) at FOX Bet
Wager: 1 Unit
For the Browns, going from Mayfield to Keenum may not be a massive downgrade, but I’m still not at all confident in them being able to score a bunch of points.
Putting up just 14 against the Steelers, you have to imagine a Keenum-led squad may not do much more than that. It’s safe to assume that the Browns will not risk their star player, running back Nick Chubb, very much—if at all—in this game.
If we go off the narrative of Burrow coming in and getting a lead only for Allen to come in to manage the game, we have to assume that there will be a lead of around 10-14 points, if not more. After that, Allen will be able to manage the game if not score a few more points.
Meanwhile, the Browns look like they’ll have trouble moving the ball. Cleveland’s receivers are depleted and the offensive line has been up and down this season with just a few higher-level performers.
While D’Ernest Johnson is a fine running back, making him the focus of the offense (if he clears Covid protocols) in this one with Chubb playing little (if at all) won’t help. This doesn’t strike me as a team that’ll put up enough points to keep this game close.