Bengals vs. Browns Free NFL Picks for Week 18

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Kareem Hunt #27 and Donovan Peoples-Jones #11 of the Cleveland Browns. Nick Cammett/Getty Images/AFP

The first Week 18 game in each team’s history doesn’t have much at stake for the Bengals and Browns this Sunday. The Browns were officially eliminated from the playoff picture last Sunday after losing their third straight game. The Bengals had a dramatic comeback against the Chiefs to win their third in a row and clinch the AFC North divisional title.

Read on to take a look at the NFL odds and cash out at the best sportsbooks!

     Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns

Sunday, January 09, 2022 – 01:00 PM EST at FirstEnergy Stadium 

Cleveland enters the week at 7-9 and can’t even get to .500 on the season with a win. Avoiding double-digit losses for a second straight year will have to serve as motivation for the Browns, and it’s something Cleveland hasn’t accomplished since 2001 and 2002.  

Cincinnati has a more optimistic outlook as the regular season winds down, but also not much significant to play for. Cincinnati is currently the No. 4 seed. It could move as high as No. 1 with a win and a lot of help, but the Bengals will have to balance the odds of all that happening for them against the opportunity to rest their regulars in the season’s final week.  

COVID-19 Issues 

The first stop for any NFL preview this December and January has been the COVID-19 reserve list, and a check of that reveals another reason the Bengals may be willing to sit some key players to prepare for the playoffs.  

Cincinnati had five players added to the list on Tuesday, including center Trey Hopkins and guard Quinton Spain.  

Riley Reiff is already out for the year after hurting his ankle in mid-December. That would mean the line would be missing three starters while facing Cleveland’s Myles Garrett and Jadeveon Clowney, a strong incentive to keep quarterback Joe Burrow on the bench for the Cleveland game. And if the quarterback and dark-horse MVP candidate aren’t playing, there’s not much incentive to suit up running back Joe Mixon or receiver Ja’Marr Chase. 

No Baker Under Center 

The Browns have already pulled the plug on their starting quarterback for the game, not out of caution but due to injury. Baker Mayfield announced he will be having surgery to repair his labrum injury as soon as possible, in order to prepare for next season. Mayfield has had an up and down year but threw for two touchdowns in Cleveland’s 41-16 win over the Bengals earlier this season. Mayfield was sacked nine times in Monday’s loss to Pittsburgh.  

“There was an opportunity to win, and I’m an extremely competitive guy,” Mayfield said after the game. “Now, it’s time for me to look at what’s in the best interest of me and my health. I haven’t been healthy and I tried to fight for my guys. Right now, I’m pretty damned beat up, to be honest with you.". 

Cleveland’s running backs are also ailing. Kareem Hunt missed his third straight game on Monday with an ankle problem, and Nick Chubb’s carries were limited as he coped with a rib injury. 

The Pick 

The lines are all over the place for this game, with one outlet having Cincinnati as the underdog. We look for Cleveland to be more relaxed with the drama of Mayfield’s inconsistent season put to bed for the year. For your NFL pick, look for the Browns to get a meaningless win to close out a frustrating season as Cincinnati’s regulars look on from the sidelines. 

NFL Pick: Browns +3 (-110) with BetOnline (visit our BetOnline Review)

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Browns +3 (-110)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.