One team has failed to cover six straight times as a big favorite and the other team is 8-3 ATS in its last 11 games as a big underdog.
It's a battle for territorial pride in Ohio, but more importantly a battle for early positioning in the AFC North. In Vegas, bettors are concerned with Cincy's 0-6 ATS run as a favorite of eight or more points and enamored by Cleveland's recent 8-3 ATS in the opposite role.
"A small majority of the betting consensus is on the Browns (about 56 percent as of Thursday), but this is a team that has lost seven of eight against the Ravens and 18 of 20 straight up within the AFC North," said Jack Randall, a football handicapping analyst at OddsShark.com.
The result has been an opening line of -9 that has been bet down to -7 at most shops, according to Randall.
On the bright side, the Browns forced four interceptions on Mike Vick and covered the spread as a 9-point underdog at home. But that will do little to cheer the Browns up in what amounted to a pretty disastrous home opener.
Rookies Brandon Weeden (12/35, zero touchdowns, four interceptions) and Trent Richardson (19 carries for 39 yards) both had lackluster NFL debuts, and star cornerback Joe Haden has been suspended four games for substance abuse. Vick led the Eagles on a touchdown drive in the final two minutes to steal the game.
The Bengals are also coming off of an ugly debut, getting stomped by the Baltimore Ravens 44-13 in prime time on Monday night as a 7-point underdog. It was actually a close game at 17-13 with six minutes to go in the third quarter, but Baltimore ran away with the game down the stretch.
BenJarvus Green-Ellis had a nice debut (18 carries for 91 yards and a touchdown), but the defense will obviously need to be better moving forward.
Cincinnati owns a 6-1 straight up edge over the Cleveland Browns in their last seven meetings, but Cleveland holds the ATS edge over that span at 4-3 ATS. This is a tricky game to figure out; how much will Joe Haden’s absence affect Cleveland’s defense?
And is Cincinnati the real deal, or was last year’s playoff run a fluke? At home and coming off of the embarrassing loss on Monday night, we think Cincinnati is going to bounce back with a win.
But four of the last six games between these two teams have been decided by a field goal or less, and this one might be close enough to warrant taking the points on Cleveland as well.
PICK: Cleveland +7 (courtesy of PickShark.com)
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