CINCINNATI BENGALS @ CLEVELAND BROWNS

Week two of the NFL season starts with the intra-divisional ‘Battle of Ohio’ and who’d have guessed it both teams head into this game 0-1 on the season (we did… we guessed it!)

The Browns were blown out by the Ravens (won’t be the last time someone gets blown out by the Ravens this year!) and there were some very underwhelming aspects of their performance but lets start with the QB play, Baker Mayfield really failed to impress in his sophomore year after looking like the Browns saviour in his rookie year, the return to heavy sets (2 TE / 2 RB formations) was expected to bring around some of that rookie form but we saw a Quarterback who struggled to find his #1 Receiver OBJ, now I’m inclined to give Baker the benefit of the doubt considering the offseason we’ve had and the defense he was up against but I need to see a lot more tonight but one silver lining is their rush offense still looks strong, which may be unsurprising considering who they have in the backfield and who’s calling the plays but at least there is something I expect the Browns to be able to hang their hat on. My biggest concern with the Browns though after watching them in week 1 is their defense, they couldn’t stop the pass and really looked terrible on the back end to be honest and whilst that might not be such a huge worry this week it is something that’s going to be tested going forward, again I’m willing to give the unit the benefit of the doubt considering the circumstances and who they were facing but I’m not convinced.

Over to the Bengals and the Joe Burrow era started with an L and definitely with room for improvements from the passer and the offense on the whole, Joe Mixon was held in check and I think that’s the way to beat rookie QB’s, take their crutch away and make them beat you by deciphering coverages and throwing the football, Burrow did struggle a little but managed to get into the end zone for a rushing score and lead a drive to tie the game in the 4th but his kicker forgot how to put the ball through the uprights! On defense the Bengals struggled to contain the Chargers Running Backs with both guys going over 50 yards on the ground and letting rookie, Joshua Kelley in for a score and this doesn’t bode well when your next task is stopping the two headed backfield monster of Nick Chubb and Kareen Hunt!

I’ve said previously that this young Bengal team lead by a rookie QB and a 2nd year HC will lose one score games through lack of experience and inability to get over the line and this is another one of those scenarios in my opinion. The Browns should lean on their two headed monster in the backfield and once they’ve established the run the options in the pass game open up and that’s where Baker should be able to find success through the air. Joe Burrow is used to the national stage from his National Title winning year with LSU so I don’t expect the TNF lights to faze him and I think he’ll show improvements even from Sunday’s performance to keep the Bengals in it but on paper I think the Browns are too strong and the Bengals aren’t there yet.

Kareem Hunt has played the Bengals at home twice in his career (once with the Chiefs and last year with the Browns) and has 6 TD’s in those 2 games so against an underwhelming run defense in Cincy I like Hunt to find pay dirt here.

PREDICTION: BROWNS 24 – 17 BENGALS

BEST BET: Kareem Hunt Anytime TD @ 15/8 with SkyBet. 2 point win.

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