Pick Details

CIN
at
CLE
(101) Cincinnati vs. Cleveland (102) 8:20 PM | Thu, Sep 17 2020
Sport: NFL | Star Rating: 9.0 Evaluation: Win (900) - Final Score CIN 30 at CLE 35
Pick
6 CIN (-106) @ pinnacle

My 9* Battle 4 Ohio play is on the Cin Bengals at 8:20 ET.

The Browns opened the 2020 season with a new head coach, as Freddie Kitchens lasted just ONE season. Kevin Stefanski signed a five-year contract to become the 18th head coach of the Cleveland Browns on January 13, 2020 (was Minnesota's OC in 2019 and this marks his first head coaching job). QB Baker Mayfield had a promising rookie season in 2018 (27/14 TD-to INT ratio and 93.7 QB rating) and Cleveland's 2019 season looked promising. However, Mayfield was awful through the season's first eight games, throwing just seven TD passes with 12 INTs as the Browns went 2-6. They did win FOUR of their next five games (Mayfield had an 8-4 ratio) but the Browns lost their final three games to finish 6-10 (it didn't help that the Cleveland D allowed 34.0 PPG in those final three games). As for Mayfield, he ended his 'sophomore' season with 22 TDs, 21 INTs and a 77.8 QB rating (far off his 'freshman' numbers!).

Marvin Lewis took over at Cincinnati and had just ONE playoff appearance in his first six seasons. However, he then led the Bengals to SIX postseason appearances over a seven-year stretch (2009-15) but the Bengals always lost their first playoff game. Three straight losing years followed (2016-18) and he was finally fired. Zac Taylor got the job (his first head coaching gig) in 2019 and the Bengals were just 2-14. However, Cincy was pinning its 2020 hopes on Heisman-winner Jeff Burrow out of LSU, fresh off one of CFB's most prolific seasons.

Joe Burrow's NFL debut (he was the only rookie QB to start the first week of the season) was a mixed bag. He ran 23 yards for a TD but was a modest 22 of 36 for 193 yards without a TD pass. He put the Bengals in range for a dramatic, late-game win but threw an interception on a shovel pass to thwart one late scoring chance and then watched as Randy Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal with two seconds left, clinching the Chargers' 16-13 win. The good news was that the Cincy "D," which allowed 26.3 PPG in 2019, held the Chargers to just 16 points.

The Browns have won just ONE game on Opening Day since returning to the NFL in 1999 and last Sunday was no different. The Cleveland D had no answer for Lamar Jackson, who completed 20 of 25 for 275 yards with three TDs and zero INTs (152.1 QB rating). Jackson also added 45 yards rushing. As for Mayfield, he was a non-factor, going 21 of 39 for 189 yards with one TD and one INT. The offense converted just 3 of 12 third downs and was 0 for 3 on 4th downs

These are two sad-sack franchises but while I think the Browns 'whiffed' with Mayfield, I believe the Bengals "have a keeper" in Burrow. I'm taking the points.

Good luck...Larry

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