Pro Football Betting: Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns

Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns
Sunday, 9/11/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV: CBS
Opening Point Spread: Cleveland -2.5
Current Betting Line: Cleveland -6.5
Opening Total: 38
Current Total: 35.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Browns vs. Bengals NFL Preview
Cleveland QB Colt McCoy hopes his team can cover a season opener for the second time in 13 years.

Two former college quarterbacks from the state of Texas will take center stage in Ohio on Sunday when Andy Dalton and the Cincinnati Bengals visit Colt McCoy and the Cleveland Browns.  McCoy set an NCAA Division I career record with 45 wins two years ago while playing for the Texas Longhorns, and Dalton notched 42 in four seasons with the TCU Horned Frogs.

The Browns (-6.5, O/U 35.5) are coming off back-to-back 5-11 seasons and have a new head coach in Pat Shurmur, who replaces Eric Mangini.  Shurmur was hired away from the St. Louis Rams, where he helped Sam Bradford develop into a record-breaking quarterback as offensive coordinator last year.  Bradford played against McCoy in the Red River Rivalry when he was at Oklahoma and set rookie records for completions and attempts in his first year with the Rams.

McCoy had a solid rookie year in Cleveland but started last season behind journeyman Jake Delhomme and Seneca Wallace on the depth chart.  He ended up starting eight of the last 11 games due to injuries to Delhomme and Wallace, finishing with 1,576 yards, six passing touchdowns, one rushing touchdown and nine interceptions.

Dalton will get the opportunity to start right away as a rookie in Cincinnati since Carson Palmer is still sitting out in hopes of getting traded.  The Bengals finished 4-12 a year ago will definitely have a new look on offense outside of running back Cedric Benson, as wide receivers Terrell Owens and Chad Ochocinco are also no longer around.

Instead, Dalton will be counting on rookie A.J. Green along with Jerome Simpson, Andre Caldwell and Jordan Shipley.  Green was the team’s first-round selection in April’s NFL draft while Dalton was picked in the second round.  Dalton threw three interceptions combined in his first two preseason games but looked better against fellow rookie QB Cam Newton and Carolina in a 24-13 victory on August 25.

Benson recently served five days in jail on a misdemeanor assault charge and may be counted on to carry a heavier workload early in the season as Dalton gets adjusted to the pro game.  The former first-round pick out of Texas had a season-high 150 rushing yards in the last meeting with the Browns, leading Cincinnati to a 19-17 win as a 1-point home favorite.

Cleveland is just 1-10-1 against the spread in the team’s last 12 season openers, and the underdog has covered seven of the past eight meetings.  The Browns have also lost seven of their last eight games both straight-up and ATS, including the preseason.

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