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Why I’m laying the points and taking the under in Bengals vs. Browns

The Bengals and Browns open Week 2 with the first Battle of Ohio in 2020. We break down why the favorites should cover.

Cleveland Browns quarterback Baker Mayfield hands the ball to running back Nick Chubb against the Pittsburgh Steelers during the first quarter at Heinz Field. Philip G. Pavely-USA TODAY Sports

The NFL opens Week 2 with the Cleveland Browns playing host to the Cincinnati Bengals. The game kicks off on NFL Network at 8:20 p.m. ET, with the Browns sitting as a 6-point favorite and the point total installed at 43 at DraftKings Sportsbook.

Both teams lost last week, but the storylines were a little different. The Browns went into Baltimore and got absolutely waxed. Early on it looked like they might make a game of it, scoring a touchdown to cut into a 10-0 Ravens lead in the first quarter. However, they never scored again, losing 38-6. Kareem Hunt ended up with one more snap than Nick Chubb, and led with 17 total touches for 81 yards over Chubb’s 11 touches for 66 yards.

The Bengals lost 16-13 to the Chargers after Randy Bullock missed a 31-yard field goal that would have tied the game in the closing seconds. Cincinnati couldn’t get much going on offense, but Joe Burrow made enough plays to offer some optimism heading into Week 2. He looked like a rookie for extended stretches, but he made some big plays including a 23-yard touchdown run and nearly driving them to a game-winning touchdown in the closing minutes of the game.

The Bengals will be without defensive tackles Geno Atkins and Mike Daniels, right guard Xavier Su’a-Filo, and safety Shawn Williams. The Browns will be without cornerbacks Kevin Johnson and Greedy Williams and linebackers Jacob Phillips and Mack Wilson.

Pick: Browns cover -6, Under 43

I’m intrigued to see what Joe Burrow can do in his second start and also how a team responds to him with a game of film now available. Burrow is clearly talented, but we know it will be an up-and-down year for him.

I think we see the Browns get back on track to some degree. I was surprised by how poorly they performed against Baltimore last week. I figured Baltimore would cover, but I thought the Browns offense would show more life. This week brings a chance to get going against a Bengals team that won’t be awful, but still has a long road of improvement ahead of them.

The Bengals looked good on defense, ranking 11th overall at Football Outsiders, while the Browns ranked dead last thanks to a 31st ranking against the pass. I think we see some improvement for Cleveland with a matchup against Burrow. I could see him getting his first passing touchdown, but we’ll still see some of the rookie mistakes. And losing his guard after one week is a problem against the Browns defensive front.

I’m seeing something like Browns 24, Bengals 13, where Mayfield has a couple touchdown passes and Chubb runs in a score. Looking at some player props at DraftKings Sportsbook, I’d take the over on Chubb rushing yards (69.5), the under on Burrow passing yards (240.5) and the over on Burrow interceptions (0.5).

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