Bengals vs. Browns: NFL Week 18 betting odds, preview, and pick

Profile Picture: Dan Halverson

January 7th, 2022

In the NFL's first Week 18, the Cincinnati Bengals are set to face their in-state AFC North rival, the Cleveland Browns, in the Battle of Ohio.

While the Bengals are already in the playoffs and the Browns are out, one team has to win and cover the spread this Sunday. Let’s take a closer look at the game and figure out which of those teams it will be.

Sun, January 9 2022, 6:00 PM

CLE Browns






O 38

CIN Bengals






U 38

The Bengals are AFC North division champions at 10-6 straight up and 9-7 against the spread. The Browns are 7-9 straight up and 7-9 against the spread.

With the Bengals destined for the third or fourth seed, and little difference between the two, the Bengals are resting numerous players, including quarterback Joe Burrow.

As a result of the Bengals’ presumed indifference to the outcome, the Browns are a six-point favorite. The total for the game is set at 38, as both teams have backup quarterbacks and, for the Bengals at least, should show vanilla offensive sets.

Browns have motivation against rival

Across the league, Week 18 features some of the most unpredictable dynamics of the entire season. Many teams are playing without anything left of their season to compete for except pride. Others are playing for their opportunity to make the postseason.

In this game, the Bengals have little incentive to fight for a win. They are locked into either the third or fourth seed, which will most likely mean a matchup against either the Colts or Patriots.

The Browns have had nothing to play for since last week, when they were eliminated from playoff contention. They are also playing at home, and with tensions high about the long-term outlook of this roster and coaching staff, the team is likely to have a little more fire in them than a Bengals team coming off the celebratory division-clinching win against the Chiefs.

These are all professionals and they will no doubt show up ready to play, but it is hard not to think the Browns have the edge in motivation for this matchup.

Bengals vs. Browns injury report

Cincinnati BengalsCleveland Browns
DT Larry Ogunjobi: Out (reserve/COVID-19)
RB Nick Chubb: Questionable (chest)
DT B.J. Hill: Out (reserve/COVID-19)
RB Kareem Hunt: Questionable (ankle)
OG Quinton Spain: Out (reserve/COVID-19)
QB Baker Mayfield: Out (labrum)
TE C.J. Uzomah: Questionable (knee)
DT Malik Jackson: Out (reserve/COVID-19)

Bengals and Browns betting trends

  • Browns are 6-1 straight up in their last seven games versus the Bengals
  • The Over is 6-0 in the Bengals' last six games following a win
  • The Over is 4-0 in the Bengals' last four games against the AFC North
  • The Over is 7-0-1 in the last eight matchups between these teams
  • The Over is 6-2 in the Browns' last eight games versus AFC North members

The verdict

The Browns had a disappointing season but have been successful against the Bengals in recent matchups. They crushed the Bengals in Cincinnati in Week 9 and now get them in a letdown spot that could double as a look-ahead game.

The Bengals would be wise to play things close to the vest, run clock, sit key players, and go as vanilla as possible. The Bengals have several defensive linemen that will be out or limited against this Browns rushing attack that will likely make the difference.

Score prediction: Browns 27, Bengals 14

NFL Week 18 pick: Browns -6

Bengals vs. Browns Pick powered by The Quant Edge

Our predictive engine is calling for the Browns to cover the spread.