Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Preview (10/25/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Matchup Preview (10/18/20): Betting Odds, Depth Charts, Live Stream (Watch Online)
Oh, how the turn tables. After a four-game winning streak against the Bengals, Washington, Cowboys, and Colts, the Browns looked like a real threat to make the playoffs and potentially even give the Ravens and Steelers a run in the AFC North. Then, the Browns had to travel to Pittsburgh and looked the worst they’ve looked all year as they were whooped by 31 points. Baker Mayfield never got comfortable in the game and the Browns’ defense had no answers for an extremely efficient Steeler attack. Meanwhile, the Bengals looked like a real competitive football team for a little over a quarter as they built a 21-0 lead. Then, they allowed the Colts to mount a 31-6 scoring run to come back and win. The last time we saw these teams play, the Browns built an early lead before Joe Burrow completed 37/61 passes for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns to get the Bengals back within five points. The Bengals’ pass-catchers have been phenomenal this year and Burrow has flashed great play this season, so the Browns will have their work cut out for them defensively if they want to shake off their loss to the Steelers. The Browns have won four of their last five meetings with their division-rival Bengals and they are currently around 3-point favorites to win this game.
Date: Sunday, October 25th, 2020
Time: 1:00 PM ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
TV Coverage: CBS
Browns vs. Bengals Live Stream
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Cleveland Browns: TE A. Hooper (appendix) O, LB J. Phillips (knee) O, G W. Teller (calf) O, CB G. Williams (shoulder) O, WR K. Hodge (hamstring) O, RB N. Chubb (MCL) O, S K. Joseph (hamstring) Q, RB K. Hunt (ribs) Q, WR J. Landry (hip/ribs) Q, QB B. Mayfield (chest) Q, C J. Tretter (knee) Q, DT S. Richardson (Achilles) Q
Cincinnati Bengals: RB J. Mixon (foot) O, CB W. Jackson (concussion) O, DT M. Daniels (elbow) O, DE S. Hubbard (elbow) O, DT D. Reader (quadriceps) O, G X. Su’a-Filo (ankle) O, TE C. Uzomah (Achilles) O, CB T. Waynes (pectoral) O, SS S. Williams (hamstring) Q, WR J. Ross (illness) Q
Cleveland Browns Analysis
Baker Mayfield’s health will be the big talking point this week as he went into last week’s game with rumors swirling around a chest/rib injury or an illness hampering the third-year QB. Whatever was afflicting Mayfield really hurt his productivity as he was swarmed by the Blitzburgh defense and was only able to complete 10/18 passes for 119 yards, 1 touchdown, and 2 picks with a 56.2 QBR. Luckily for Mayfield, the Bengals’ defense is averaging over 3 sacks per game fewer than the Steelers. He had a very efficient game the last time he played Cincy as he completed 16/23 passes for 219 yards, 2 touchdowns, and 1 interception with a 98.4 QBR. He’ll need to get back to that level of play for the Browns to shake off their brutal loss last week. It’s worth noting that Mayfield and the Browns could be without Wyatt Teller and J.C. Tretter this week, two high-level interior offensive linemen, but it may not matter with a lack of interior pass rush for Cincinnati.
Kareem Hunt struggled last week as he logged 13 carries for 40 yards and 2 catches for 17 yards, but you have to take that at face value as it was a dominant game for Pittsburgh’s defense and the Browns’ offense struggled as a whole. Hunt ranks 5th in DYAR and 6th in DVOA among all running backs per Football Outsiders and he had a monstrous game the last time he faced the Bengals with 10 carries for 86 yards and a touchdown as well as 2 catches for 15 yards and a score. That was with Nick Chubb in the lineup, who has since suffered an MCL injury that will continue to keep him off the field. Before last week, Hunt logged 23 touches against the Colts and he should see a similar workload this week. The Bengals have allowed the sixth-most rushing yards per game in the NFL this year.
The Browns’ pass-catchers will look to take advantage of a Bengals’ defense that has allowed the 11th-most passing yards per game this season and will be without lockdown outside cornerback William Jackson. Odell Beckham Jr. had 4 catches for 74 yards and a touchdown the last time these teams played but he was held to just 2 catches for 25 yards last week. He’s been inconsistent overall, but the Browns’ offensive line will keep Mayfield upright enough for him to hit OBJ downfield. Jarvis Landry has reportedly been playing through a broken rib, but he is an integral part of this offense with a lack of receiving depth on the roster, especially with Austin Hooper out this week. OBJ could see a massive target share in this game with Landry injured and Hooper absent.
Defensively, things could be a whole lot better for the Browns. Injuries to Greedy Williams and Karl Joseph early in the season have held back this secondary significantly and the run defense, this team’s biggest strength, has taken a hit with the loss of Sheldon Richardson. Cleveland is now allowing 31.2 points per game, the third-most in the NFL. Their league-leading +6 turnover differential also dried up last week as Mayfield threw two interceptions and the Steelers did not turn the ball over. Myles Garrett ranks second in the NFL with 7 sacks (Aaron Donald has 7.5), but outside of a fringe DPOY candidacy from him, the Browns have not had many above-average defensive performers.
Cleveland Browns Depth Chart
Cincinnati Bengals Analysis
Joe Burrow has been hit-or-miss in his rookie season, but he’s also faced a few tough defenses as of late in the Colts and Ravens. He performed admirably against Indy this past week, completing 25/39 passes for 313 yards, and while he didn’t throw a touchdown, he did lead three early scoring drives. The last time Burrow played the Bengals was his second game and he threw for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns. The Bengals’ offensive line hasn’t done the rookie quarterback any favors as they have the 2nd-worst pass protection grade in the NFL per Football Outsiders. Burrow hasn’t thrown a touchdown since his Week 4 game against the Jaguars, but he should be able to break that streak against a very beatable Cleveland secondary.
Despite the poor offensive line play, Burrow does have the benefit of a deep and talented group of playmakers at his disposal. Joe Mixon will miss this week with a foot injury, but he hasn’t been very efficient behind a poor run-blocking line and Giovani Bernard will still be able to provide plenty of pass-catching out of the backfield. Cincy has the 4th-worst run-blocking offensive line in the NFL so far per Football Outsiders and the continued absence of Xavier Sua’Filo doesn’t help matters.
Rookie wide receiver Tee Higgins has continued to emerge this season and has seen 6+ targets in each of the past five weeks. He caught 6 balls for 125 yards last week as he and A.J. Green seemed to switch roles in the offense. Higgins’s yards per target (15.6) last week was his highest by far as he took on more of the perimeter role Green had previously inhabited. Meanwhile, Green had his best game of the year by far as he caught 8 passes for 96 yards. At this stage of his career, Green is likely better suited to play as a big-bodied interior receiver and he could continue to excel with this transition as Larry Fitzgerald has in Arizona. Tyler Boyd has had a strong season as well with a 16-game pace so far of 99 catches for 1104 yards, but he’s scored just one touchdown so far.
The Bengals’ defense has probably overperformed a bit this season as they rank dead middle of the pack in points allowed per game (26.2). They have allowed the fifth-most rushing yards per game which does not bode well for them against a Browns team that runs the ball the 3rd-most times per game in the NFL. The Bengals’ pass defense has been surprisingly solid this year, but they will struggle to generate pressure against a strong pass-blocking offensive line. The absence of William Jackson could prove problematic for the Bengals this week as their secondary depth is poor and outside of Jessie Bates and Jackson, they have little in the way of game-changing pass defenders. With Jarvis Landry limited and Austin Hooper injured, they could get away with that lack of pass defense this week. Still, I wouldn’t expect this defense to do great as they allowed the Browns to score 35 points in their last matchup.
Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart
Spread: Browns -3, Bengals +3
Moneyline: Browns -170, Bengals +140
Over/Under: 50.5 points
The Browns looked terrible last week and it’s hard to be confident in them with Baker Mayfield playing poorly all year, but I believe the 3-point line is too small. The last time the Bengals faced the Browns, they allowed Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, and Mayfield to rack up 215 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. With stout nose tackle D.J. Reader, defensive end Sam Hubbard, and safety Shawn Williams all out for Cincinnatti, they have little hope of being able to stop the Cleveland rushing attempt. Kareem Hunt is set to have a stellar game and lead the Browns offense to a win. Odell Beckham Jr. could be in for a great game as well with cornerbacks William Jackson and Trae Waynes out for Cincy this week. Joe Burrow has the arm talent and plenty of receiving talent at his disposal to take advantage of an equally injured and limited Browns secondary. However, I’m far more concerned about the Bengals’ offensive line trying to keep Myles Garrett at bay than any of the Cincy pass rushers against one of the best offensive lines in the NFL. The Browns had a few fluky results with turnovers early in the season, but their win over the Bengals wasn’t one of them as they split the turnover battle and they won’t need to rely on turnovers here. I’ll put my confidence in the team with the better offensive line, running back, coaching, and pass rush, so I’ll take Cleveland to cover the spread. In 7 of the Bengals’ last 10 games and in 4 of the Browns’ last 6 games, the over has hit, including the last time these teams met in which they scored a combined 65 points.
My predictions: Browns win 30-24, Browns cover, over 50.5 points
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Daily Fantasy Picks
At $5,500 on DraftKings and $7,100 on FanDuel, Joe Exotic is one of my favorite cheaper QB targets for DFS this week. He threw for 316 yards and 3 touchdowns in these teams’ last meeting, finishing with 24.5 fantasy points (his best output of the season). He’s thrown for 300+ yards in four of six games this season and the Bengals are clearly content to throw often on first and second downs. With the Browns dealing with several injuries in their secondary and plenty of playmakers for Cincy, Burrow should be in for a great game.
At $5,300 on DraftKings and $5,700 on FanDuel, the Bengals’ rookie wideout is not yet seeing the price uptick that his talent and opportunity demand. Tee Higgins has seen 38 targets this season, a steady 15.4% target share. He’s seen a 23.3% target share over the past two weeks, catching 10 passes for 187 yards over that span. The Browns provide a much better matchup for him than the Ravens and Colts did over the past two weeks and this should be the week we see a full-scale breakout from Tee Higgins.
With Joe Mixon ruled out for this matchup late in the week, the DFS platforms have not had an opportunity to catch up with the needed price uptick for Giovani Bernard. Joe Mixon has seen 119 carries (2nd-most in the NFL) so far, and Bernard will be in line to pick up that work, although the Bengals will likely go even more pass-heavy. Bernard hasn’t shown much this season, but he’s an incredible value target at $4,500 on DraftKings and $4,800 on FanDuel.
Since Nick Chubb’s injury, Kareem Hunt has become the every-down back for the Browns, and his combination of elite rushing and receiving talent makes him an every-week DFS target. Things didn’t go his way last week against one of the best rush defenses in the NFL in the Steelers, but he’ll have a lot more opportunity against a Bengals defense that has allowed the 12th-most fantasy points to RBs this season.
Odell Beckham Jr.
OBJ is frankly never one of my favorite targets for DFS due to the extreme volatility in his game, but he really should be able to take advantage of an abundance of factors in his favor this week. Austin Hooper won’t play, Jarvis Landry will miss or be extremely limited with his broken rib, and the Bengals’ William Jackson will miss leaving them with little in the way of respectable coverage for OBJ. Baker Mayfield has been inconsistent, but he’ll have enough time in the pocket to find OBJ downfield against weak coverage. His upside is tremendous.