NFL Football Picks From the Wiseguys on Sunday

Wiseguys are including the Browns on their NFL football picks portfolio
The Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals hook up this Sunday for an AFC North divisional battle. Of course the game of the day is Pittsburgh vs. Baltimore, but wiseguys haven’t forgotten about the other divisional match-up.

The Bengals opened as a 3 ½ point favorite, and despite the public playing the visitors at nearly 2:1, the line has been pulled down to 3 points. The reason for the reverse action is some sharp money that has come in on Cleveland. But why do the wiseguys like the Browns in this game?

First of all, the technical numbers make a bettor want to fade the Bengals and back the Browns. In the past 3 years against the spread, Cincy is a dismal 2-10 as a favorite. Further, they’re 3-8 ats against teams with a losing record, 6-7 against divisional opponents, and 3-5 in October. On the flip side, Cleveland has been a solid play in this type of situation. In the past 3 years against the spread, the Browns are 15-11 as an underdog, 7-5 against teams with a winning record, 7-6 against divisional opponents, and 6-1 in October.

The Browns are 0-3 straight up this season, but they haven’t been that bad. In their 3 losses they’ve lost by a combined 12 points. Last week they traveled to Baltimore and hung around for the entire game, losing 24-17 and easily covered the spread. The defense has played well. They’ve allowed only 322 yards per game and 3.8 yards per rush – both are respectable.

Unfortunately, the Browns have been hit with some bad injuries. Jake Delhomme has been out the past 2 games and is doubtful for this Sunday. Jerome Harrison is not expected to start, but should see some time against Cincy. Back-up quarterback Seneca Wallace is expected to get the start. Wallace isn’t a top-tier quarterback, but he’s one of the best back-up qbs in the League. At worst, he’s serviceable. Peyton Hillis had a strong performance against the Ravens last week, rushing 22 times for 144 yards against a quality defense. With Harrison carrying some of the load, the Cleveland offense should be effective.

The Bengals are 2-1 straight up and against the spread, but there seem to be some problems on offense. In particular, Carson Palmer has underperformed. Considering the personnel Cincy has on the outside, Palmer was expected to have his best season yet. But Palmer has been inaccurate, completing only 56.6% of his passes. Palmer’s inability to force the defense to spread out has affected Cedric Benson’s ability to get yards. Cincy’s offensive numbers are indicative of their struggles. As a team, the Bengals are averaging 100 yards on the ground and 220 through the air for a grand total of 320 yards, which is well beneath this team’s potential.

The defense has been good, but not great. They’re giving up over 300 yards per game and 4 ½ yards per carry. Importantly, though, the D has 8 takeaways so far.

This is an in-state battle between 2 Ohio teams, so expect a physical contest. In their last four games against each other, Cincy is 3-1 straight up, but Cleveland is 3-1 against the spread, which is what we’re concerned about. It’d be nice to have this line go back up to 3 ½..

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