The Cleveland Browns find themselves in unfamiliar territory, sitting in the thick of AFC North contention ahead of a prime-time matchups against the division-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Thursday Night Football. The Browns will have one giant obstacle to overcome: They have lost 17 straight road games against divisional opponents. They are consensus six-point underdogs on the road against the Bengals, who have not lost at home to Cleveland since 2008.
Cincinnati is coming off a 33-23 win over the Jacksonville Jaguars last week as a 10-point favorite, falling to 12-2-1 against the spread in its last 15 home games. The Bengals did not have running back Giovani Bernard available due to a hip injury, but rookie Jeremy Hill stepped right in and rushed for a career-high 154 yards on 24 carries with two touchdowns. Bernard is expected to be out again Thursday, so Hill will get another chance to shine at home.
The Browns have won four of their last five games, but they failed to cover the spread in a 22-17 victory against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers last week after the closing lines had them as 6.5-point home favorites. Cleveland has taken advantage of an easy part of its schedule featuring four opponents with a combined four wins during that stretch. The lone contender in that group was the Pittsburgh Steelers, who lost 31-10 to the Browns on the road in Week 6 before reeling off three straight wins at home. The Browns' only loss in the past month took place at Jacksonville in Week 7, a 24-6 setback after the Jaguars were listed as four-point road favorites.
The Cleveland-Cincinnati rivalry has hit the over in five of the last six meetings between the teams, and a couple more trends surrounding the Bengals' recent play also favor a high-scoring game. The over is 8-3 in Cincy’s last 11 home games overall and 7-3 in the team’s past 10 at home against AFC North opponents. While the Browns have dropped seven of the last 10 meetings with the Bengals, they are 6-3-1 ATS in those games, and two of the three wins ATS have occurred within the past two years.