Whether it was because Deshaun Watson was rusty or because their offense struggled with the midseason change at quarterback, the Browns’ offense wasn’t great on Sunday against the Texans. Cleveland won, 27-14, but its offense didn’t rating a touchdown, with the team as an alternative getting scores via fumble return, punt return and interception return. (It was only the fourth time since 2001 that one team got scores of that nature in the identical game.) Of its 11 non-kneeldown drives, the Browns punted six times and had three others end due to turnovers or a security, and certainly one of its two field goals got here after a drive of only eight yards. Watson averaged a terrible 3.91 adjusted yards per attempt.
The issue for Cleveland is that its defense (twenty seventh in DVOA) and special teams (twenty fifth in DVOA before Sunday’s game) are likely to be pretty lousy and sure can’t be counted upon to supply two games in a row, particularly when the opponent shouldn’t be the awful Texans but fairly a surging team just like the Bengals, who’ve won 4 straight since a 32-13 loss to the Browns on Oct. 31.
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In that game, the Browns sacked Joe Burrow five times, which represents 20 percent of their total sacks this season. Burrow’s protection has gotten rather a lot higher, nonetheless: Within the season’s first eight games, ending with the primary game against Cleveland, the Bengals were allowing 3.6 sacks per game. Within the 4 games since that Browns loss, Cincinnati has given up only five sacks total.
The Browns’ rushing defense ranks thirty first in DVOA, so the Bengals also shouldn’t have much trouble moving the ball with its running backs, whether it’s Joe Mixon (who has missed the past two games with a head injury) or Samaje Perine (who had 106 rushing yards against the Chiefs on Sunday while also catching six passes). Running backs are averaging 4.8 yards per attempt against the Browns (twenty sixth within the NFL).
With Watson clearly not in game shape and the Bengals on the rise, I’ll take the favourite here.
Listed here are the remainder of this week’s point matchups and point spreads.