Bengals vs. Browns odds, prediction, betting trends for NFL’s ‘Thursday Night Football’

When the Bengals and Browns resume their in-state AFC North rivalry on ‘Thursday Night Football’ (8:20 p.m. ET, NFL Network), the goal for each team will be avoiding falling into a bigger hole.

Both Cincinnati (0-1) and Cleveland (0-1) suffered frustrating losses in Week 1. The Bengals led the Chargers throughout before giving up the lead late and were unable to convert the game-winning field-goal opportunity. The Browns were blasted by the Ravens on the road from the get-go.

There are expectations that both teams should be much improved from 2019, but 2020 hasn’t started off well. There’s a lot on the line early as the Battle of Ohio goes into prime time.

Here’s how Sporting News sees the game playing out and the betting information you need to know:

Bengals vs. Browns odds for Thursday Night Football

The Browns are essentially a field-goal better than the Bengals, according to Vegas, with another 3 points added for home-field advantage. The Browns will have a small crowd for the game to give them a boost in what could have felt like a neutral site, with Cleveland being less than four-hours drive from Cincinnati.

Complete Week 2 NFL picks: Straight up | Against the spread

Bengals vs. Browns all-time series

The Bengals have a comfortable 51-42 advantage in the teams’ long history with links back to the late great Paul Brown. The Bengals won at home last December, 33-23. Before then, the Browns had a three-game winning streak. Prior to 2018, the Bengals had won six straight and seven of eight.

Three trends to know

— 55 percent of bettors like the Bengals to cover what seems like an enlarged spread. There is a lot of fading on the Browns already being done again.

— 65 percent of bettors like the Bengals to outright win via the money line. Last week’s final score results are definitely a factor there.

— 56 percent of bettors like the total to go over despite what is a very tricky and well-set over/under.

Three things to watch

Baker vs. Joe

Baker Mayfield, the first overall pick in the 2018 draft, will duel Joe Burrow, the rookie first overall pick in the 2020 NFL draft, for the first time. Mayfield’s arrow is pointing down after a bad sophomore slump and a terrible opening game in Year 3. Burrow looked confident, even with his mistakes in his debut, and should have been rewarded with a game-winning drive.

Burrow winning and playing much than Mayfield would further bury the latter. Mayfield needs this game a lot more than Burrow and needs to play like it.

Chubb and Hunt vs. Mixon

The Browns did show a strong running game in Week 1 and that’s the strength of their team with improved run blocking and two dynamic backs, Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt. The Bengals have a special workhorse of their own in Joe Mixon, supported by Giovani Bernard.

The spotlight is on the quarterbacks, but it will come down to who gets the most help and balance with the rushing attack going to facilitate the passing games.

Myles Garrett back on ‘TNF’

The last time the Browns played this midweek prime-time game, they beat the Steelers, 21-7, but Garrett and the team lost their cool late against backup QB Mason Rudolph, leading to an ugly all-out brawl that curbed Garrett’s season. Garrett needs to play within himself and get after Burrow to help his team win.

Stat that matters

9-6-1. That’s the Browns record when Chubb is active and performs in a home game. He had 7 100-yard rushing games last season. He ran for 106 over 15 carries in his previous home game against the Bengals. He is the key to Cleveland winning.

Bengals vs. Browns prediction

The Bengals will show good fight with Burrow and the Browns’ banged-up defense will allow to move the ball well with Mixon and set up better success through the air for Burrow. The Browns will also exploit a bad defense, however, with a lot of Chubb and Hunt, allowing Mayfield to get more comfortable. Expect a tight grind but Cleveland survives by running better late in the game.

Browns 24, Bengals 20

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