By Charles Jay
The Cleveland Browns resemble a M*A*S*H unit at the moment, with the ranks thinned out severely by injuries. So there is a lot of interest in whether the Cincinnati Bengals, who are one of a handful of undefeated teams left in the league, will be able to create some difference in the scoring when these clubs meet in CBS Thursday night football, slated to begin at 8:25 PM ET at Paul Brown Stadium. After the game kicks off, the NFL betting does not have to stop, as BetAnySports customers can test themselves against the football odds through the facilities of Live Betting Extra.
To begin with, the Browns are forced to make a change at quarterback. Josh McCown, who has completed 65% with eleven touchdowns and had a string of 300-yard games, has rib injuries that are bad enough that they have made it difficult for him to sleep or even breathe. These injuries were present last week when the Browns played Arizona (and lost 34-20), and in such a short turnaround week the decision has been made to go with Johnny Manziel, the Heisman Trophy winner who had all kinds of problems when facing Cincinnati last year in a 30-0 defeat. Manziel was picked off twice that day and sacked three times. But the general consensus is that Manziel has a much greater command of the offense than he did a year ago.
That is only the beginning as far as injuries for the Browns are concerned.
And in the Thursday night NFL betting odds that have been posted on this game at BetAnySports, this is reflected:
Cincinnati Bengals -12
Cleveland Browns +12
Over 45 points -110
Under 45 points -110
Brian Hartline will miss this game for Cleveland, as will Andrew Hawkins, so that leaves less depth at wideout. Manziel will have a couple of targets that have produced well beyond expectations, as wide receiver Travis Benjamin, who hooked with him on a pair of touchdowns, and tight end Gary Barnidge (40 catches, 567 yards) are available. It is expected that rookie Duke Johnson may be counted on heavier than usual at running back. He has more explosive potential than Isaiah Crowell (3.2 ypc).
But they are going to missing key people in the secondary. Joe Haden is missing from one cornerback spot. Safety Donte Whitmer won’t be around. Nor will safety Jordan Poyer. So they’re moving ahead with a skeleton crew.
The Andy Dalton that BetAnySports patrons have seen this season has the potential to carve these guys up. He has a sterling ratio of 15 TD’s to four interceptions, and while in the past he has had AJ Green to throw to and not much else, he now has more dependable outlets at this disposal, most notably tight end Tyler Eifert, who has six touchdown catches.
Still, Cincinnati does leave some room for its opponents to operate on offense. They have surrendered five yards a rush and six yards a play, and the Browns, at least largely under McCown, have been pretty good at converting third downs (45.8%). This is Manziel’s big chance to prove that he deserves consideration as the quarterback now, not just the quarterback of the future.
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