Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals: Prediction, Odds, Depth Charts (1/7/24)

The Cincinnati Bengals play host to the Cleveland Browns on Sunday (1/7/24) in an AFC North battle. In this article, find the latest betting odds for the game and a full matchup preview. In addition, find our best bet for the Browns vs. Bengals game which is under 37 points.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction

With their win over the Jets last week, the Browns clinched the fifth seed in the AFC, and head coach Kevin Stefanski has done an excellent job in a season marred by injuries. The Browns are onto their now fifth starting quarterback of the season with Joe Flacco resting this week and Jeff Driskel getting the nod.

Driskel hasn’t gotten a start since Week 3 of the 2020 season, a 28-10 home loss with the Broncos where he was held to 176 passing yards. For his career, Driskel sports an ugly 6.1 yards per attempt, which would rank just 39th out of 44 qualified quarterbacks this season. Even against a downtrodden Bengals defense, it’s tough to imagine him having much productivity.

Cincinnati defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is highly regarded in the league, but this has been a rough season for the Bengals defensively. They rank just 25th in overall DVOA and are bottom four against the run and pass by success rate. However, with the Browns resting Amari Cooper and having Elijah Moore in concussion protocol, it’s tough to imagine them moving the ball that effectively.

Meanwhile, the Bengals are still rolling with Jake Browning as their starter, but his efficiency has declined in recent weeks. He was held to 5.8 yards per attempt against the Chiefs last week, a season-low mark in a start. The week before that, he threw three interceptions against the Steelers. With an aDOT of just 6.8 yards, he rarely pushes the ball downfield to threaten defenses.

The Browns are expected to rest several defensive starters, including ED Myles Garrett, CB Greg Newsome II, and S Juan Thornhill, but much of the defense will be intact, and they rank first in EPA this season. The Bengals have struggled to run the ball, ranking 22nd in DVOA, so they can’t really attack the relative weakness for this defense.

The Bengals are the more motivated side here, especially as they look to avoid an 0-6 divisional record this season and end the season with a winning record, but there’s minimal value at the current number with the Bengals sitting as 7-point favorites. Even against a Browns team at less than full strength, it’s hard to lay that number with Jake Browning.

Ultimately, the best bet here is the under. The Browns will likely come in with an uber-conservative approach as they look to get in and out of Cincinnati without any major injuries. Meanwhile, Browning’s efficiency will likely be held in check against arguably the best defense in the NFL, even without multiple starters.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction: Under 37 Points

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Best Odds

On the surface, it’s surprising to see an 8-8 Bengals team favored by 7 points against an 11-5 Browns team, even at home. But with the circumstances regarding the difference in motivation and the Browns resting multiple starters, the line makes more sense. The over/under currently sits at 37 points, which would lead to an implied final score of around 22-15 in favor of the Bengals.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Key Injuries

The Browns have ruled out multiple key starters, including WR Amari Cooper, ED Myles Garrett, and K Dustin Hopkins. The status of WR Elijah Moore is worth monitoring as he’s in concussion protocol, but he has yet to be officially ruled out. The Bengals, meanwhile, are listing WR Tee Higgins and CB Chidobe Awuzie as questionable.

Cleveland Browns vs. Cincinnati Bengals Key Matchups

While the Browns are down multiple starters in this game as they prepare for the playoffs, there are still some fun matchups worth monitoring. Let’s break down some of the key matchups that could determine the outcome of this game.

Geron Christian vs. Trey Hendrickson

The Browns have had a season marred by injuries, and that’s been very true along the offensive line where tackles Jedrick Wills, Jack Conklin, and Dawand Jones have all suffered season-ending injuries. Geron Christian is now the starter at left tackle, and he’s had a rough season, allowing 30 pressures through eight games with the Browns per PFF.

Christian will be entrusted with protecting Driskel’s blindside this week, and that could be trouble as the Browns are facing one of the best pass rushers in the NFL, Trey Hendrickson. Currently ranked 7th among qualified edge rushers in PFF pass rush grades, Hendrickson is tied for the league lead with 17 sacks this season.

Ja’Marr Chase vs. Denzel Ward

As of now, it does look like Denzel Ward will suit up on Sunday as he’s not currently on the injury report. His status is very much worth monitoring, though, as it could make sense for the Browns to hold him out this week as he dealt with injuries this year. The Browns will need him fully healthy for the playoffs.

If he does play, the Pro Bowl cornerback will have a fascinating matchup against Ja’Marr Chase, who needs just three yards on Sunday to start his career with three straight 1,200-yard seasons. Chase has been held in check against the Browns, and he’s averaging just 58.3 yards in four career games against them, including just five catches for 39 yards earlier this season.

Cleveland Browns Depth Chart

QB: Joe Flacco
RB1: Jerome Ford
RB2: Kareem Hunt
LWR: Amari Cooper
RWR: Cedric Tillman
SWR: Elijah Moore
TE1: David Njoku

Cincinnati Bengals Depth Chart

QB: Jake Browning
RB1: Joe Mixon
RB2: Trayveon Williams
LWR: Ja’Marr Chase
RWR: Tee Higgins
SWR: Tyler Boyd
TE1: Drew Sample

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I've been a huge sports fan for as long as I can remember and I've always loved writing. In 2020, I joined the Lineups team, and I've been producing written and video content on football and basketball ever since. In May 2021, I graduated from the University of Michigan with a degree in sport management. My goal is to tell enthralling stories and provide meaningful insight on the sports I write about while helping you cash some bets along the way.

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