Week 18 can be the toughest slate of games to predict in the NFL, with rested starters and unclear motivation.
And the Cleveland Browns game against the Bengals isn’t much different than the rest.
Locked into the AFC’s 5-seed, Cleveland will rest a lot of players, and Cincinnati can’t escape the division basement.
ready to close the book on the regular season pic.twitter.com/J5p1byttmf
— Cleveland Browns (@Browns) January 5, 2024
But motivated players auditioning for next season’s job or some minutes in the playoffs can surprise everyone.
Here is how we see the Bengals versus Browns game playing out:
Ben Donahue: “The Browns are resting several starters against Cincinnati and will be on their fifth quarterback of 2023. The Bengals have nothing to play for either, but will look to beat their cross-state rival.” Bengals 24-Browns 17.
Pat Opperman: “Bengals don’t want to go winless in the division. But the Browns really like beating them down. Pierre Strong rushes for 100+ yards and Alex Wright has 2 sacks in a testy game.” Browns 20, Bengals 16
Rocco Nuosci: “Even with a backup QB and not much to play for, the Browns have had Cincy’s number, and I expect that trend to continue.” Browns 20 – Bengals 17
Vegas believes the Bengals (-7.5) will win big as the more motivated team playing in front of a home crowd.
And without Joe Flacco, they’re calling for a low-scoring affair.
Browns fans can watch how their backups handle the Bengals in Sunday’s early slot on their local CBS affiliate.