NFL expert Danny Graham (@DannyGPunter) shares his expert opinion on Thursday night football from Cleveland as the Bengals travel to the Browns.
Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns | Friday 18th September 2020, 01:10 | Sky Sports
The Cleveland Browns host the Cincinnati Bengals in Thursday night football to kick-off Week 2 of the NFL season. It’s a surprise to me that this game has been given the prime time slot in America as it showcases two of the worst sides in the league over the last few seasons.
The Browns tried a galactico approach last time around with number one draft pick QB Baker Mayfield surrounded by talent such as Odell Beckham Jr, Nick Chubb, Kareem Hunt, David Njoku and Jarvis Landry. On paper they really should be pummelling more teams than they do but the game is played on the field not in the back office and the fantasy football approach just hasn’t worked for them.
Too many egos? Poor coaching? Put it down to what you will but the fact remains they just don’t play well as a team and they still remain cannon fodder for the best teams in the league as shown by their 38-6 opening day reverse against the Ravens.
New head coach Kevin Stefanski has his work cut out to correct a lot of what was wrong at the weekend and a short week with not much time to work on things is not going to help.
The Bengals came within a missed chip shot field goal of taking the Chargers to overtime and the performance of rookie QB and number one draft pick Joe Burrow will have given their fans hope for optimism for the coming season. Many experts see him as a generational talent and I for one was impressed with what I saw considering it was his full NFL debut off the back of an interrupted preparation.
Burrow took his time to get going and start to feel comfortable but as time wore on in the game he certainly showed enough to suggest the green shoots of recovery for the Bengals are starting to sprout. His last minute drive to get them into field goal range with no timeouts remaining was reminiscent of old timers such as Brady and Manning. If he carries on along those lines he won’t go far wrong in his career.
The betting angles
From a punting perspective in this match it’s a tough one to call. The Browns should win. The Bengals could win. It will likely be pretty attritional and defences on top. There’s a chance the two QBs with the exuberance of youth let loose and we are in for a shootout.
It’s a balancing act but on all probability I think it’s more likely that we see defences dominate and a points line of 44 could be challenging for these two to meet. Under 43.5 Points at 10/11 (generally available) is the first bet of the evening.
Boylesports' Bet Builders are a nice addition to the NFL betting options this season. There are still some markets to be added I’m sure as the product grows but it’s a great first step. Taking Joe Burrow rushing yards at Over 23.5 and coupling it with Joe Mixon rushing yards at Over 50.5 pays a nice price of evens.
Burrow had 46 yards on the ground and Mixon 69 in Week 1 so this looks good value especially when you consider the Bengals will be keen not to put too much pressure on their new QB to try and win games through the air single-handedly early on. This should lead to a nice balance of run/pass plays and give us ample opportunity to hit the rush lines on offer.
One player of particular interest whilst waiting for TD scorer markets to come out was Bengals' tight end CJ Uzomah. Two of his seven career touchdowns have been against the Browns. The Browns historically do not defend the tight end position well and conceded two TE TDs against the Ravens to show that particular issue has not been fixed.
Uzomah is not the most prolific TD scorer in the world but this game could be set up for him to do some damage. The fact he isn’t prolific means we get a much better price.
Uzomah played 49 snaps in Week 1 and seems to be the lead tight end for the Bengals – more than double that of the other tight end on the roster Drew Sample (24 snaps). That should increase his productivity this year in terms of yards and touchdowns so a price of 6/1 (Bet365) for an anytime touchdown appeals.
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns – Under 43.5 Points (10/11 William Hill)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns – Joe Burrow Over 23.5 Rushing Yards and Joe Mixon Over 50.5 Rushing Yards (1/1 Boylesports)
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns – CJ Uzomah to score a touchdown (6/1 Bet365)