Week 2 Preview: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Brownsby Sam Schneider September 17, 2020 0 comments
Two teams coming off disappointing losses in Week 1 take the stage under the lights of Thursday Night Football, when the Cleveland Browns (0-1) host the Cincinnati Bengals (0-1) in an AFC North tilt.
Cleveland was dealt a blow in the first week of the season by last year’s division champion Baltimore Ravens to the tune of a 38-6 score that saw Baker Mayfield muster just over 50 percent completion Managing only 189 yards through the air. The Browns put together just 306 yards of total offense against a stout Baltimore defensive alignment. They should have far more success against their intrastate rival Bengals, who will be without defensive tackle Geno Atkins for the second straight week as well as backup tackle Mike Daniels.
Cincinnati fell to the Los Angeles Chargers in a heartbreaker for the debut of rookie Joe Burrow, 16-13. After the first overall pick displayed his prowess in the fourth quarter, kicker Randy Bullock was unable to convert a 31-yard yard field goal shortly before the clock expired and Cincinnati could not force overtime in a game where they had gained the upper hand. Bullock pulled up lame on the kick, grabbing his calf, but questions remain as to whether it was a legitimate injury. The Bengals immediately signed former Browns fifth-round pick Austin Siebert, but Bullock is expected to be the starting placekicker on the short turnaround to Thursday night’s game.
Both franchises are reeling on the injury front coming into the nationally televised affair. The Browns are likely to be without former All-Pro Jack Conklin at right tackle, and (although listed as questionable) center J.C. Tretter, Jr looks likely to be out as well. Cleveland had issues last week versus Baltimore with a host of injuries in the secondary, which remain. Missing are Kevin Johnson and Greedy Williams, who would be key to stopping a Bengals air attack. Additionally, The Browns will be without linebackers Mack Wilson and Jacob Phillips for the game. On the upside, Jarvis Landry (who did not practice on Tuesday and was limited in Wednesday’s session) is expected to play and the Browns’ defensive line is intact which are the two areas of importance against pressuring the young quarterback for the Bengals
Cincinnati will be without Xavier Su’a-Filo at right guard and coming off another disappointing performance from Bobby Hart at right tackle, it remains to be seen how Burrow will be protected. In relief last week, Billy Price finally showed some glimpses of why the Bengals drafted him in the first round of the 2018 draft. Fred Johnson is expected to be heavily involved in the rotation on the right side of the line as the visiting team will try anything to give their young gunslinger time to throw. Last year’s first-round pick, Jonah Williams, performed well at left tackle against the Chargers and his reward is a meeting with Browns’ juggernaut Myles Garrett.
With issues on the offensive line for both teams, this game will likely be decided by whoever can run the ball more effectively in a division where that is not the exception, but the rule. Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt found some space against the Ravens’ front but were abandoned in the blowout. For Cincinnati, Joe Mixon found little running room against the Chargers, accounting for just 69 yards and a 3.63 yards per carry average.
Date: Thursday, Sept 17, 2020
Start Time: 8:20 P.M. est
Location: Cleveland, OH
Stadium: FirstEnergy Stadium
TV: NFL Network, live stream on fuboTV
Betting Odds Sponsored by Jazz Sportsbook
Points Spread: CIN +6 (-110) | CLE -6 (-110)
Monyeline: CIN +215 | CLE -265
Over/Under: O 43.5 (-110) | U 43.5 (-110)
The total has dropped to 43.5 after opening at 46, which says that a lot of bettors are banking on the under for a Thursday night game, which is not a bad idea considering the short turnaround and an abbreviated offseason. Both teams will want to come out hot but if one can grab the lead, it will be ball control until the other tries to make a late charge. The +215 money line bet on the Bengals is awfully tempting here, as well.
The Browns are coming off a beating and set the tone early, victimizing Cincinnati’s injury woes at defensive tackle, using Chubb and Hunt in heavy rotation. Burrow is seething after the missed kick in Week 1 and is ready for his “coming out party” against their neighbors to the north. The Bengals make a late run in a road division game and take home the primetime battle, eschewing field goal attempts multiple times and converting fourth downs instead.
Final Score: Bengals 24, Browns 17
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Main Image Credit: Embed from Getty Images