TV Schedule: Thursday, Nov. 5 at 8:25 p.m. ET, NFL Network
Stadium: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Line: Bengals (-12.0)
This Thursday presents the 2015 season’s first Battle of Ohio. Based on how the respective seasons have gone for both teams involved, said battle is going to be a bloodbath.
The Cleveland Browns hobble to Southwest Ohio for a prime-time date with the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals will most likely be looking for revenge from last year’s Thursday night bout between these two, where they looked hapless beyond belief in a 24-3 loss. As for the Browns, they’re likely just looking to leave Cincinnati with as much of their pride intact as possible.
Cleveland is in the midst of a miserable 2-6 season, and is fresh off a loss to the Arizona Cardinals in which a 20-7 lead turned into a 34-20 blowout. Quarterback Josh McCown is one battered human being, dealing with a sore shoulder and possibly broken ribs. He claims he’ll try to give it a go Thursday, but he did so after stating he’s currently in so much pain he can’t sleep or breathe right.
This certainly increases the odds backup Johnny Manziel will be back in the spotlight for the Browns. We all know what happened the last time he played the Bengals, when his rookie debut turned into an absolute nightmare.
If Manziel does take the field, he’ll likely add a little bit of a spark to Cleveland’s offense. The Bengals’ defense is decent, but not incredibly intimidating. Manziel will likely try and find wideout Travis Benjamin early and often, as the two have connected on three touchdown bombs in two games this year.
Other than this, the Browns are going to have to find a way to incorporate running back Duke Johnson. While Cleveland is abysmal at running the ball this year, Johnson has provided huge yardage when utilized as a receiver. He had two big catches last Sunday against Arizona, but barely touched the ball afterwards. This can’t happen again Thursday.
As for Cincinnati’s offense, I can only imagine every single member of the unit is licking their chops for this game.
Cleveland’s defense is a walking disaster, and facing a Bengals offense featuring standout receiver A.J. Green, a dual-threat running back tandem of Giovani Bernard and Jeremy Hill and a much-improved quarterback in Andy Dalton, expect things to look even worse Thursday night.
Cincinnati was humming offensively going into last weekend’s game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Things cooled off in said contest, but the Bengals were still able to pull off a win and maintain their perfect record.
It’s extremely difficult to believe Cincy will remain in a funk this week. The matchup already overwhelmingly favored the Bengals, and things got even worse when Browns cornerback Joe Haden and safety Donte Whitner suffered concussions last weekend, effectively knocking them out of this week’s game.
Let’s face it, the line for this game is at double digits for a reason. Look for the Bengals to run roughshod over Cleveland, finally proving the prime-time lights aren’t an issue for them this time around.
Prediction: Bengals 42, Browns 10