It probably does not offer the Cincinnati Bengals NFL betting fans much comfort, but the Bengals are a better football team than the Browns. The difference is that the Browns are developing into a better team and the Bengals are not.
The Cleveland Browns took a hard 13-6 loss to the Buffalo Bills in Week 14. The last few years have featured a Bills-Browns game in the snow, and this year it was the Bills that took the victory.
But the Browns are a patient organization, and it will be interesting to see what team president Mike Holmgren does in the offseason. There may be a hunt for a new and young quarterback, as it seems as though rookie quarterback Colt McCoy is going to have a problem competing for the starting job.
The Cincinnati Bengals should be a potent offense. Quarterback Carson Palmer has been known as a great leader and an accurate passer. Wide receivers Chad Ochocinco and Terrell Owens should be a prolific tandem racking up receiving yards and scoring a couple dozen touchdowns between the two of them. Running back Cedric Benson should be building on his breakout season last year and approaching 1,500 yards on the ground this season.
The reality for the Bengals is that everything that should have happened has not, and the offense has sputtered all season long.
The Cleveland Browns are showing steady improvement in some key areas on offense this season. The offensive line seems to be coming together, and running back Peyton Hillis presents an offensive threat that the Browns have not had in a while.
However, the offensive line still needs some work, and the Browns do not seem to be settled at quarterback just yet. Jake Delhomme is not the long-term answer in Cleveland, and Colt McCoy seems to be falling out of favor with head coach Eric Mangini and Mike Holmgren.
The Browns have an effective pass rush that can keep a quarterback in check, but their run defense has been letting them down. In their Week 14 loss to the Bills, the Browns allowed Buffalo running back Fred Jackson to gain 112 yards. They managed to limit Bills quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick to 142 yards in the air, but Fitzpatrick also managed to throw the game's only touchdown pass.
The Browns had one of the more opportunistic defenses in the league. It was the Browns defense that led the way in their Week 7 win over New Orleans. But the bad weather in Buffalo seemed to slow the Browns defense down, and the weather will not be any better in Cincinnati.
The Bengals defense has been just good enough to keep Cincinnati in games this season, but it has been the offense that has given those games away. The Bengals have an effective pass rush that can keep Delhomme in check, but Peyton Hillis may be a problem for the Bengals in the rushing game.
The Bottom Line
If Carson Palmer can make better decisions in this game than he has made in previous games, then the Bengals can win this game. As the Browns defense has proven, the weather is a factor when playing Cleveland, and it does snow in Cincinnati.
Pick: Cincinnati Bengals