Bengals vs Browns Predictions & Best Bets

Last Updated: Jan 5, 2024

The Cleveland Browns are heading to the playoffs, and the Cincinnati Bengals will miss out after a tumultuous season that saw them lose starting quarterback Joe Burrow.

Cleveland was already down to its backup under center in Joe Flacco, and now it will sit Flacco here as it looks ahead to the playoffs.

They’ve brought in Jeff Driskel to try out for the backup quarterback job in the playoffs. Still, with so much uncertainty surrounding the quarterback position and who will and won’t play for the Browns, the NFL odds indicate the Browns will drop this meaningless game to Cincinnati.

Here are our NFL Week 18 best bets for Cleveland vs Cincinnati.

Browns vs Bengals Odds

NFL odds used for this Cleveland vs Cincinnati preview were found at DraftKings Sportsbook and are current as of Thursday, Jan. 4, at 4 p.m. ET.

  • Moneyline: Bengals (-305) • Browns (+245)
  • Spread: Bengals -7 (-105) • Browns +7 (-115)
  • Total Points: Over 37.5 (-108) • Under 37.5 (-112)
  • Implied Score: Bengals 22.25, Browns 15.25

Browns vs Bengals Predictions

Score Pick: Bengals 20, Browns 16

We know Driskel to be a somewhat competent game manager, throwing 14 touchdowns to eight interceptions in his brief NFL action. Despite some fleeting completion percentages, the good news is that he’s been able to limit turnovers.

The Bengals rank 12th in takeaways per game, but that’s about where the success ends for this defense. They’ve ranked just 28th in EPA per dropback this season, 24th in pass rush win rate, and 26th in run stop win rate.

Cleveland may be trotting out Driskel and some depth wide receivers, but this game should be relatively close.

Jake Browning has looked better and better under center and will have the benefit of facing a Browns defense that was already down Ogbo Okoronkwo and will now be resting most of its good players. Still, this unit should be good enough to keep the game close and low-scoring.

Browns vs Bengals Best Bets & Props

Browns +7 (-110)

BetMGM • WAGER: 1 Unit

The Bengals have issues rushing the passer this year and stopping the ground game, and while they’ve taken the ball away plenty this season, Driskel isn’t likely to throw the ball into dangerous situations, given what we know of him.

I expect Cleveland, ranked 11th in rush play rate this season, to keep it on the ground against a Bengals side ranked 29th in rushing success rate.

That will closely mirror the offense Driskel may be asked to run in the playoffs should he have a good start here and enter in the event of a Flacco injury.

He has not traditionally been one to turn the ball over, either, and with the conservative game plan built around the run, I don’t think Kevin Stefanski will opt to throw the ball too deep downfield with a depleted group of wideouts.

As long as Cleveland can command time of possession, which it really should, this game will remain within one touchdown.

The fact that this is a meaningless game to both doesn’t automatically mean the Bengals will win, as we’ve seen in years past and with that, I think you can bet on the better, deeper defense to earn a cover here. The Bengals are our NFL bet of the day.

Under 37.5 (-110)

BetMGM • WAGER: 1 Unit

There aren’t too many great offerings on this game, considering we have no idea who will be playing in the end, so we will have to look at the total.

I like the Under here, considering what I’ve said above regarding the Browns. I think they should control the time of possession in this one with how easily they should move the ball on the ground, which will kill a ton of this clock.

Conversely, the Browns are third in takeaways per game this season, and Browning is just starting to wobble a bit under center.

Being asked to do more and more as the weeks have gone on, Browning has now thrown six interceptions in his last six games and should give the ball right back to the team that will burn the clock here at least once as he tries to force the issue in what could be his last start in some time.

That equates to a low-scoring affair on Sunday, and while this number already reflects that, it’s hard to see both teams scoring multiple touchdowns.

Browns vs Bengals Same-Game Parlay

Browns vs Bengals SGP (+340)

DraftKings Sportsbook • WAGER: 0.5 Units

  • Browns +7 (-115)
  • Under 37.5 (-112)
  • 1Q Under 7.5 (-142)

As I said, it’s hard to find a lot of ways to get down on this game, given the slim pickings in the prop markets. However, there is no need to worry as there are ways to combine a few bets here for a bigger profit.

You already know I like the Browns and the Under here, and I’ll continue with that sentiment by taking the first quarter under. Both of these teams rank in the bottom half of the league in first-quarter offense this season, with Cincinnati averaging just two points per game in the first over their last three contests.

The Browns have bossed the time of possession all season long and should limit Cincinnati’s chances to move the ball downfield with a long, run-heavy, scripted first drive.

Considering there could be fewer than four touchdowns scored this game and fewer than 37 total points, it should be a safe bet to bank on a slow start to what should be an ugly game for both offenses.

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