Monday Night Football closes out Week 8 on ESPN with the Cincinnati Bengals taking on the Cleveland Browns on Halloween night. The Browns have had the Bengals’ number the past two years. Last year, they handed the AFC Champions their worst loss of the season by a score of 41-16. Joe Burrow threw a 99-yard pick six to open up the game, Donovan Peoples-Jones caught a 60-yard touchdown pass, and Nick Chubb had a 70-yard touchdown run. It was a day filled with big plays against a defense that has just had a lot of difficulty stopping this Cleveland offense.
The Browns face some more adversity this week with RG Wyatt Teller and TE David Njoku out on offense. On defense, CB Denzel Ward is still out with a concussion. Compounding issues with the depth at tight end and cornerback is that Pharoah Brown, Greg Newsome, and Greedy Williams are all questionable to play with various ailments. Linebacker Jeremiah Owusu-Koramoah is also questionable.
Another question is whether this could be Kareem Hunt’s final game as a member of the Browns, with the trade deadline coming up. Although Cleveland’s two-headed monster is an amazing luxury to have, at 2-5 and Hunt not under contract for next season, it makes sense to pick up an asset in the draft. D’Ernest Johnson has not been utilized at all this season, but after an impressive 2021 year in relief (aside from some fumbles), it wouldn’t seem to be a massive downgrade for the offense to have Johnson as the relief back to Nick Chubb.
Despite all the noise, this is the type of game where you figure the Browns will want to pull out all the stops for a win. They have a bye week coming up, and getting into that bye week at 3-5 — with Deshaun Watson’s return less than a month away — would have the team in better spirits. And as much as the Browns’ losses to date have been demoralizing, if you have a 2-1 division record with Watson coming back, that gives you a chance to go 5-1 within the division, which could make things interesting down the stretch. If you lose this week, though, 2-6 pretty much cements it as a lost season.
I like for Nick Chubb to have a big game on the ground, and for Joe Burrow to be forced into some spooky turnovers en route to the upset. Browns 31, Bengals 24
According to DraftKings Sportsbook, the Browns are 3-point underdogs against the Bengals.
The rest of the DBN staff picks for the game are below, courtesy of our friends at Tallysight. You can use this as your open thread for the game.