Two teams that have struggled in recent seasons as much as a bass on the end of your fishing hook, the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns, open second week National Football League action in primetime tonight.
Both lost their openers, and both have quarterbacks running their offenses that were number one picks in the draft. Cleveland Quarterback Baker Mayfield opened his third professional season for first-year head coach Kevin Stefanski like so many meetings before it, with a Cleveland loss. This one, in Baltimore, against one of the league’s favorites to win it all, the Ravens. It wasn’t close, John Harbaugh’s Ravens started Stefanski’s career off on a sour note, 38-6.
The Bengals opened their 2020 campaign at home against the revamped Los Angeles Chargers, and they too came up on the wrong side of the score, albeit in a much more competitive game, 16-13.
Rookie quarterback Joe Burrow had Cincinnati hometown fans thoroughly entertained, although they were forced to watch on television. He opened the scoring in the contest with a 23 yard run and led the Bengals into the fourth quarter with a lead, 13-6. Then, after the Chargers countered with 10 fourth quarter points, Burrow guided his squad on an 84 yard drive that had the Bengals within a few yards of winning the game in regulation.
Then, like so often in recent Cincinnati football history, the game ended in disappointment when a chip shot 31-yard field goal attempt by vetern kicker Randy Bullock sailed wide right. On the play, Bullock grabbed his right calf as if seriously injured, but the team now reports he is able to go tonight … although the short week limits his recovery time.
Bengals close, but lose, 16-13.
Off those two results, the Browns getting blown out and the Bengals defeat in a competitive game, the book makers still installed the Browns a favorite by more than a touchdown. The public figured it was a gift, and piled on the Bengals like they were … well, some other team than the Bengals.
The public backing of the road team tonight has seen the books drop the spread on this game below a touchdown, currently the Browns are favored by 6 points.
Now, it is true that Baker Makerfield appears more capable of taking care of his home field advantage in commercials than in an NFL game. Still, this nevertheless appears a perfect spot for the home team to bounce off a lopsided loss and the Bengals to get pinned with a second straight setback.
While the Bengals can look to their opener with the angst of being so close, the Browns have nothing to look at except the need to quickly turn it around to avoid another oh and two start. From a motivational perspective, this inches an advantage to the home team tonight, and any advantage against the Bengals is usually enough to forecast a Cincinnati loss.
Qoxhi Picks: Cleveland Browns (-6) over Cincinnati Bengals