The first battle of Ohio will take place this Sunday in what will be a big game for both the Cleveland Browns and Cincinnati Bengals.
But, the storyline this week has been anything but the talk about the game and all about Odell Beckham Jr.
Will the Browns be able to overcome the drama and prevail in a tough divisional road game?
Let’s take a look at our writer’s bold predictions for this Sunday’s matchup.
Writer: Wendi Oliveros
I believe this game will go one of two ways.
It will either be a Bengals’ rout of the Browns, or the Browns will blow out the Bengals.
This is an all-or-nothing game on many levels.
The Browns season is on the line in Week 9.
Leaving Cincinnati without a win makes any playoff aspirations a lot harder to achieve.
The Bengals have something to prove after beating the Ravens handily and then dropping a game to the Jets.
In the end, I am putting my faith on Coach of the Year Kevin Stefanski, to call a good game and lead this team a victory.
It has been a tough week so the best way to end it is with a big win.
My Prediction: Browns 35, Bengals 20
Writer: Ben Donahue
Last Sunday’s loss to the Steelers was a devastating blow for Cleveland.
The dropped passes, fumbles and general lack of enthusiasm were telling.
This team has imploded and the remainder of the season is in jeopardy.
The Browns just ended a three-game home stand with a 1-2 record.
Away from FirstEnergy Stadium, the franchise is 1-2.
In other words, the comforts of home have not been positive and neither has the road.
The Browns are about to embark on a stretch of their season where they play three of four away from Cleveland.
With all the in-fighting reported this week (including the release of OBJ on Friday) and the lackluster play on the field recently, the Browns don’t inspire a lot of hope.
— Jake Trotter (@Jake_Trotter) November 5, 2021
The Bengals are on the cusp of greatness, but they have been inexplicably tripped up by the Bears and Jets this year.
However, they have also crushed the Ravens in Baltimore and nearly beat the Packers.
Until (or if) the Browns get their act together, I can no longer give them the benefit of the doubt.
My Prediction: Bengals 30, Browns 17
Writer: Pat Opperman
Baker Mayfield played about as well as anybody expected last week.
And now that we know he can move and throw the ball okay with a brace, I expect him to be ready for a big game.
Cincinnati seems to bring out the best in the Browns quarterback.
But Joe Burrow wants to bounce back from a loss, too, so Mayfield should expect another shootout.
Fortunately, Mayfield’s receiving corps used up their annual allotment of drops last week.
So he should find more reliable hands waiting for the ball in Week 9, including the returning Donovan Peoples-Jones.
Cleveland’s running game will look to bounce back to their usual dominance, as well.
This should be a fun game to watch, but in the end, it will be more fun for Browns fans.
My Prediction: Browns 37, Bengals 31
Writer: Mark Bergin
The Odell Beckham Jr. era has come and gone in Cleveland.
For whatever reason, the Browns were better in the 2020 season playing without Beckham than they were with him.
Baker Mayfield thrives on people doubting and disrespecting him.
While the Bengals will also likely come out angry after last week’s stinker against the Jets, I think Mayfield will play his best game of the 2021 season.
Many people will point to Mike White’s 405-yard, three-touchdown performance against the Bengals in Week 8.
However, I think it’s more telling Michael Carter averaged 5.1 yards per carry against the Bengals.
Imagine what Nick Chubb and the Browns offensive line could do.
I’ll take the Browns winning as underdogs on the road to mark the official end of the OBJ era in Cleveland.
My Prediction: Browns 34, Bengals 28
Writer: Rocco Nuosci
With the Odell Beckham Jr. saga over, the Cleveland Browns can (finally) focus on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Joe Burrow and friends are off to a surprising 5-3 start but are coming off an equally stunning loss to the New York Jets.
Denzel Ward will have his hands full with Burrow’s favorite target and college teammate Ja’Marr Chase.
He’s logged over 780 receiving yards this season on top of seven touchdown receptions.
The Bengals will put up points boasting the seventh-best scoring offense in the NFL.
Cleveland has to match that offensive output with their own.
Cincy defends the run much better than the pass.
If Baker can get back to how he looked last season once OBJ was out of the equation, going stride for stride is possible.
This week may have just been too much to overcome with off-field drama.
My Prediction: Bengals 31, Browns 21