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Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns Free Picks & Betting Predictions

Isla Knightley for Bookies.com

Isla Knightley  | 6 mins

Cincinnati Bengals At Cleveland Browns Free Picks & Betting Predictions

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The Cleveland Browns are out of contention; so too is Baker Mayfield. In a mathematical twist, the Browns were eliminated even before they took the field in Week 17 for their highly-anticipated showdown with the Pittsburgh Steelers on Monday Night Football. That technicality didn’t prevent Mayfield from taking a final stab at leading his side to victory against their hated division rivals.

The fourth-year quarterback is desperate to work out a deal with the Browns organization that goes beyond his fifth-year option. Alas, things didn’t go to plan. The Browns succumbed to the 26-14 loss and, by that same token, they failed to come through as the 1-point closing favorites in NFL spreads betting markets.

Things couldn’t have gone worse, in fact. Mayfield was sacked nine times by the Steelers defense – four times by T.J. Watt, who improved to a league-leading 21 sacks and closed the gap on Michael Strahan’s NFL record of 22 sacks in 2001. If Mayfield’s passes weren’t swatted out of the air like flies or flying helter-skelter, they were intercepted (twice). When all was said and done, the hobbled quarterback finished with just 16 of 38 passes for 185 yards and two touchdowns.

Not long after Cleveland’s disappointing loss, head coach Kevin Stefanski announced the news that sportsbooks and those within the punditocracy already expected. That Mayfield would not start in Cleveland’s Week 18 finale against the Cincinnati Bengals. This means journeyman quarterback Case Keenum is likely to get the nod Sunday, marking his second start on the season for Cleveland.

In the wake of Cleveland’s elimination and the decision to rule out Mayfield, betting sites reacted by installing the Browns as field-goal underdogs at home to the Bengals. The move represented a total market U-turn after lookahead lines with DraftKings (amongst several other online shops) projected Stefanski’s side as the -1.5-point home chalk before Week 17. The Browns have since flipped back to -4.5 favorites following the news that Joe Burrow will sit out the Week 18 clash.

Take a look at Bengals vs Browns odds, injury report, betting lines and more.

Bengals vs Browns Key Matchups

Bengals pass protection vs. Myles Garrett: The Bengals pass protection has allowed 51 sacks this season, which is the third-most in the league. The Browns defense has 39 sacks to its credit and it’s led by Myles Garrett, who’s been a menace for many quarterbacks this season.

Bengals QB vs. Browns defense: The Browns defense brings pressure all day long and can force offenses into errant plays and ill-advised throws. Burrow was sacked five times, suffered 12 hits, fumbled once, and was intercepted twice in the 41-16 loss to the Browns in Week 9. Burrow will rest for the playoffs this week.

Case Keenum vs. Bengals defense: Keenum has one touchdown to his credit this season. He went 21 of 33 passing for 199 yards in a narrow 17-14 win over the Denver Broncos on Thursday Night Football marking Week 9. The veteran could find more success against a Bengals defense that ranks 26th against the pass.

RELATED: NFL Week 18 Odds & Betting Lines For All Games

Bengals vs Browns Key Stats

2: Keenum is set to make only his second start for the Browns this season.

27.8: The Bengals are averaging 27.8 points per game (ppg), which puts them fifth overall in the league. In the last three games, the Bengals averaged 30 ppg with wins over the Denver Broncos, the Baltimore Ravens and the Kansas City Chiefs.

3-3: The Bengals are 3-3-0 against the spread when favored by at least a field goal.

5.1: The Browns are averaging 5.1 yards per rushing attempt, which puts them first in the league.

39: The Browns defense has compiled 39 sacks through 17 weeks, which is the eleventh-most in the league.

RELATED: NFL Week 18 Picks & Best Bets For Every Game

Bengals vs Browns Weather Forecast

The weather forecast for Cleveland on Sunday is damp (light rain) and windy (20mph), with a high of 39 degrees.

Bengals vs Browns Moneyline

Keenum and the Browns will attempt to snap a three-game skid when they face the newly-minted AFC North division winners on Sunday. The Bengals clinched their first title since 2015 following an upset over the Kansas City Chiefs that sent seismic shockwaves through NFL betting markets.

For Keenum, this is a unique chance to showcase his wares. He’s a disciple of the Stefanski system, having spent time with the coach when he was the offensive coordinator in Minnesota, and that familiarity will stand him in good stead. Whether it’s enough to lead the Browns to victory over the Bengals remains to be seen. The Browns beat the Bengals in Week 9, 41-16.

Suppose, the outcome largely depends on how Zac Taylor approaches the season finale and who starts for the Bengals. Joe Burrow is sitting out. That’s something to pay attention to and factor in. Another is the reserve/COVID-19 list, which has upended many a game ever since the Omicron wave started back in late November. That said, the Bengals have an incentive to win. A pretty big one, too.

Although winning the AFC North has secured a top-four seed for the AFC playoffs, a win in Week 18 combined with losses by the Tennessee Titans and the Chiefs could move Cincinnati up to the No. 1 or No. 2 seed. That’s heady stuff, indeed. Cincinnati is best-priced at +185 to win with FanDuel.

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Bengals vs Browns Point Spread

The Bengals are tipped as +4.5 underdogs with most legal betting apps with Burrow missing out.

For those looking to bet this game against the spread, it might be best to wait until Saturday before pulling the trigger. In particular if the lean is towards Cincinnati.

The Chiefs take on the Broncos on Saturday’s NFL card. The outcome will determine what’s at stake for the Bengals on Sunday. That, in turn, will determine how much Zac Taylor is going to risk in Week 18. If there’s all to play for, the Bengals would be the choice bet to win and cover. If Taylor decides to be mindful of the playoffs and rest other starters, the Browns might prove to be the savvy pick instead.

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Bengals vs Browns Totals

The game total was trading anywhere between 44 and 45 points depending on the preferred sports betting site. It's now dropped to 38 following the Burrow news. Given all the uncertainty surrounding this game, it’s tough to predict the final score.

The Bengals will be keen to atone for the embarrassment of their Week 9 loss to the Browns and send a message to the rest of the field. Should the rest of the starters get the day off, the under might be more fitting under the circumstances. Again, this is a wait-and-see situation for Week 18 bets.

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About the Author

Isla Knightley for Bookies.com
Isla Knightley
Isla, a sports journalist and betting expert, covers several sports, including the NFL, as well politics. She joined Bookies.com in 2021 after contributing to other betting sites.