The Cleveland Browns visit the Cincinnati Bengals for an AFC North showdown that had a lot more of a shine to it this time a week ago.
The Bengals are a half-game out of first place in the division but are coming off a shocking collapse to one of the NFL's worst teams, although NFL betting lines still have the kitties as 2.5-point home chalk against a Browns team that fell flat on its face last week and is at the bottom of the divisional standings.
Here are our best free NFL picks and predictions for Browns vs. Bengals on Sunday, November 7.
Browns vs Bengals odds
Odds via the Covers Line, an average comprised of odds from multiple sportsbooks.
This line opened with Cincinnati as a 2.5-point home favorite and, at the time of writing, still sits at that number. The total has seen a slight shift, moving from the opening mark of 46 up to 47. Use the live odds widget above to track any future line movements right up until kickoff and be sure to check out the full NFL odds before placing your bets.
Browns vs Bengals picks
Picks made on 11/04/2021 at 11:02 a.m. ET.
Click on each pick to jump to the full analysis.
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Browns vs Bengals game info
• Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
• Date: Sunday, November 7, 2021
• Time: 1:00 p.m. ET
• TV: CBS
Browns at Bengals betting preview
Browns: Jack Conklin T (Out), Chris Hubbard OT (Out), Kareem Hunt RB (Out), Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah LB (Out).
Bengals: Cameron Sample DE (Out), Auden Tate WR (Out), Trae Waynes CB (Out), Vernon Hargreaves CB (Out).
Find our latest NFL injury reports.
Betting trend to know
The Bengals are 11-2 ATS in the last 13 head-to-head meetings. Find more NFL betting trends for Browns vs. Bengals.
Browns vs Bengals predictions
Bengals -2.5 (-105)
It's difficult to say which team needs to wipe off the stench of an ugly Week 8 loss more: the Bengals, who choked away an 11-point lead with 7:30 left to the New York Jets and Mike White, or the Browns, who simply got manhandled on both sides of the ball and lost 15-10 at home to a washed-up Ben Roethlisberger and a Steelers team that literally did not have a kicker in the second half.
Losing to the Jets in that fashion is inexcusable... yet it's the Bengals, who still smell more like roses for this Week 9 divisional showdown. That was a massive trap game last week and despite the loss, Joe Burrow and the Cincinnati passing attack continue to hum along: Burrow is sixth in the NFL in passing yards (2,215), third in TD passes (20), and has a trio of dangerous receivers at his disposal, highlighted by electric rookie Ja'Marr Chase.
Cincy's one weakness is that it struggles to protect Burrow, who has been sacked 20 times already this year, but looking at the effort the Browns just put forth, that might not be much of an issue. Facing a now-immobile Big Ben and a Steelers offensive line that grades among the league's worst, the Browns managed to only get pressure on 13.5 percent of his dropbacks and coughed up multiple big passing plays.
Blame it on injuries (with key guys banged up and/or missing at every level), poor schematics, or guys just plain underperforming, but Cleveland's pass defense has been less-than-inspiring for the majority of the season. Yes, they only gave up 15 points last Sunday, but Pittsburgh's offense only averages 18.9 points per game on the year — plus, again, they did not have a kicker following a bizarre fake-field goal attempt in the second quarter that led to the Steelers leaving points on the table as they had to go for extra fourth-down and two-point conversions.
And sadly, the defense is the better half of the Cleveland experience. The Browns offense was putrid again last week, scoring fewer than 18 points for the fourth time in five games, with the onus going mostly towards a completely grounded passing game. QB Baker Mayfield is dealing with multiple shoulder ailments, but the reality is Cleveland has failed to top 217 passing yards in six of eight games this season, the receiving corps is wracked with injuries, and Odell Beckham Jr. (albeit being a near-non factor already) has likely played his last game for the Browns.
Opposing defenses are selling out to stop the run, and Cleveland can't keep them honest — can we really count on a team with the second-fewest passing TDs (seven in eight games) and eighth-fewest pass plays for 20+ yards to take advantage of the Bengals defense, even if it just gave up 405 yards and three TDs to Mike White?
No, no we can't. But we can count on Joe Burrow & Co. tearing apart a Cleveland secondary that has had major coverage failures all season long. We'll take the Bengals at home giving less than a field goal.
Over 47 (-105)
So, if the Browns' passing offense is so bad... how do they even get any points? Well, the Cleveland rushing game is that good.
Pittsburgh sold out to shut down the Browns run game last week, but Cleveland still managed 96 yards on 4.2 yards per carry with a touchdown. It was the Browns' second-worst rushing effort of the year, yet they still average an NFL-best 161.1 yards/per game and have a league-high 14 rushing TDs.
The Bengals have the league's seventh-best rushing defense and gave up just 41 yards against the Jets last week, but they had given up 100+ yards the three weeks prior and the Jets also churned out a lot of yards with screen passes — one of the few things Cleveland does well.
Why are we telling you this? Because there is a way for the Browns to move the ball and score some points. It won't be enough to keep up with Cincy's high-octane offense (hence why we like the Bengals to win)... but it should be enough to have Over bettors celebrating on Sunday.
Cleveland has faced four teams in the Top 10 in league passing, and gave up 33 points (Chiefs), 47 points (Chargers), and 37 points (Cardinals), with the lone low score being seven against the Vikings (who are completely unreliable with Kirk Cousins). The Bengals currently sit 11th in passing, but started slow the first three weeks and are firing on all cylinders right now, with 10 passing TDs over the last three games and at least two passing scores in every contest.
The total has gone Over in seven of Cleveland's last eight games against teams with a winning record, six of the Bengals' last nine games as favorites, and five straight head-to-head meetings in Cincinnati. Back it again Sunday.
Bengals team total Over 23.5 (-125)
Cincinnati has scored at least 24 points in six of eight games this season, with the two outliers being 17 points at Chicago in Week 2 (when the Bengals had a season-high four turnovers) and 22 against Green Bay in Week 5 (with two missed field goals).
The point is that 24 points seems to be a baseline number for the Bengals. And in facing a Browns defense that gets torched by good passing attacks at the best of times — and this is not the best of times considering the injuries Cleveland is dealing with — we have a hard time envisioning the Bengals not going Over this number again on Sunday.
Simply put: hammer this number right now.