Browns vs. Bengals: Spread Info, Line and Predictions

Matt WestCorrespondent IISeptember 14, 2012

BALTIMORE, MD - SEPTEMBER 10: Head coach Marvin Lewis of the Cincinnati Bengals watches his team warm up before the start of the Bengals game against the Baltimore Ravens at M&T Bank Stadium on September 10, 2012 in Baltimore, Maryland.  (Photo by Rob Carr/Getty Images)
Rob Carr/Getty Images

The Cincinatti Bengals and Cleveland Browns both had disappointing starts to the 2012 campaign: one in a blowout and the other in heartbreaking fashion, respectively.

The Bengals, a playoff team from a year ago, were simply outmatched against the dominating Baltimore Ravens. Baltimore had Cincinatti beat in almost every facet of the game, and made the latter look a bit unprepared for the upcoming slate of games.

Cleveland, meanwhile, allowed Philadelphia Eagles quarterback Michael Vick to bring his team back late and snake a 17-16 victory on the road. Cleveland allowed the Eagles to put up an impressive 456 yards of offense on Sunday, but the team was able to intercept Vick four times during the afternoon, showing an impressive knack for making big plays. (The defense also recovered a LeSean McCoy fumble.)

Cincinatti still has playoff aspirations this season, and will look to bounce back with a big win this weekend at home. Cleveland, with rookie quarterback Brandon Weeden at the helm, will simply look to find some consistency on offense and continue to ramp up their play-making ability on defense.

Here's the important information going into Sunday's matchup, followed by the spread, key players in the game and more.

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinatti, OH.

When: Sunday, Sept. 16 at 1 p.m. ET

Watch: CBS

Live Stream: Sunday NFL Ticket

Spread: Bengals -7 (via Vegas Insiders)

The Bengals have the requisite weapons on offense to move the ball and keep Cleveland on their toes. Second-year quarterback Andy Dalton struggled against the potent Ravens defense last week, but should have a significantly easier go of it at home against the Browns on Sunday.

With receiver A.J. Green on the outside presenting a constant deep threat and new addition BenJarvus Green-Ellis at running back, the Bengals have the chance to be more balanced than last year. I don't expect to see Dalton have two duds in a row, so the Bengals should cover the seven points on Sunday, putting themselves on a path to once again contend for a playoff spot.

Over/Under: 38.5 (via Vegas Insiders)

While it is reasonable to expect Weeden to struggle again at quarterback for the Browns (his 118 yards, four interceptions and 34.3 completion percentage numbers last week are tough to look at), Dalton and the Bengals will put up points.

With that said, I can't imagine these two teams going over that point total. The Bengals will do enough defensively to disrupt the young Browns offense, but I can't foresee this being a high-scoring affair. Both teams will try and ground out time of possession on the ground, with a relatively low score being the end result.

Key Injuries: (Via ESPN)

Bengals: Thomas Howard (questionable, thigh injury), Bernard Scott (questionable, hand)

Browns: Trent Richardson (probable, knee), Chris Ogbonnaya (probable)

Fantasy Big Plays

Bengals: BenJarvus Green-Ellis

Green-Ellis looked impressive against the Ravens on Monday, rushing for 91 yards on 18 carries to go along with a touchdown. Ellis has proven during his career that he is a reliable back, having never fumbled in his NFL career, and always showing he can ground out yards when his team needs it.

Considering the 27-year-old bruiser from Mississippi had success against the Ravens, I can't imagine him not continuing that against the Browns on Sunday. Look for him to get a bevy of carries to help Dalton stay sharp.

Browns: Trent Richardson

The No. 3 pick in the draft didn't have the impact many expected in Week 1, but seeing as his knee responded favorably after his team's loss last week, I can picture his workload increasing this Sunday at Cincinnati.

The Alabama star only carried the ball 19 times for 39 yards, but going up against the Bengals could mean more opportunities this week. Richardson is too powerful and elusive to continue to put up poor fantasy numbers, so expect an uptick this week for the young back.

Key to Bengals Win: Andy Dalton

Dalton did not look sharp in Week 1, but the defense he played had a lot to do with that. Last season's success does not seem like an aberration for the young signal-caller, and with corner back Joe Haden missing Sunday's action due to suspension, Dalton should pick apart the Browns corners all afternoon.

The majestic Dalton-A.J. Green dynamic from a year ago will come back in full force this weekend, and I see Dalton going for over 300 yards against a susceptible Browns defense.

Key to Browns Win: Brandon Weeden

If the Browns want to start showing teams they can hang from week-to-week they need to receive better play from their quarterback. Weeden's 5.1 quarterback rating last week was probably the worst-case scenario for the 29-year-old rookie, so an increase in production this week should be expected.

If Richardson can get even a little bit going on the ground, Weeden should be able to relax and find open receivers. The Browns need more production from their offense, and it starts with their quarterback.


Bengals 28, Browns 7


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