Nov 20, 2018
Nov 20, 2018

NFL Week 12 preview: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

A re-cap of Week 11

How have the Bengals developed this season?

An in-depth look at the Cleveland Browns

Week 12 predictions: Where is the value?

NFL Week 12 preview: Cleveland Browns at Cincinnati Bengals

The Cleveland Browns take on the Cincinnati Bengals in the pick of this week’s NFL fixtures. Looking for value in the NFL Week 12 odds? Read on to inform your NFL Week 12 predictions.

A re-cap of Week 11

Week 11 illustrated the fine margins that exist in today’s NFL.

Eleven of the thirteen games were decided by five points or fewer and nine of those margins of victory fell within a field goal.

Winning matches by a narrow margin is often cited as a notable trait of a tough and resilient football team, but in truth it is rarely a sustainable quality.

A moment of good or bad fortune, such as a missed field goal or an interception, returned for a touchdown can turn a potential 6-4 record into a more mundane 5-5.

Cincinnati were potentially looking to end week 11 just half a game behind AFC North leaders, Pittsburgh. But missed field goals in their game in Baltimore and penalty calls and late drives in Pittsburgh’s contest in Jacksonville, conspired to give the Steelers a 2.5 game winning buffer in the division.

The Bengals now lie in seventh overall position in the AFC, just outside the final wildcard position, sharing a 5-5 record with four other sides. Their promising 4-1 start to the season has been reversed and Pittsburgh’s six game winning streak and winning record within the division has lowered expectations in Cincinnati.

How have the bengals developed this season?

We last looked at Cincinnati in week five and speculated that quarterback, Andy Dalton may have recovered some of the pre-2015 injury swagger that enabled him to lead the Bengals to regular post season participation.

Winning matches by a narrow margin is often cited as a notable trait of a tough and resilient football team, but in truth it is rarely a sustainable quality.

That optimism came with a small sample sized caveat and Dalton has instead reverted to the mediocre performances that were more typical of his form since returning from a broken thumb in 2015.

He’s throwing for three tenths of a yards per attempt shorter than the average efficiencies allowed by the teams he has faced in 2018, which is typical of a mid to lower ranked passing quarterback.

The Bengals’ running game is marginally better than average and overall they have managed to slightly outscore the defences they have faced by around a point a game compared to par for those defences.

Defensively, Cincinnati can count two juggernaut offences amongst their 2018 opponents, in Kansas City and New Orleans, against whom they’ve conceded a combined 96 points. But they’ve also conceded at least 30 points against the three lesser lights from the NFC South and overall they’ve allowed seven more points per game than their 2018 opponents are allowing, on average.

They rank as a poor aerial defence, allowing six tenths of a yard per attempt more than par for the offence they have faced and fare even worse on the ground.

Their hot start has been swallowed up, they now find themselves in a multi team race for the likely remaining wildcard slot in the AFC and more worryingly, their underlying efficiency stats are the least impressive of their nearest conference rivals.

An in-depth look at the Cleveland Browns

Divisional rivals and opponents on Sunday, Cleveland are currently seeded 12th out of the 16 AFC teams, but their ambitions for 2018 were more modest than their hosts.

They last made the post season in 2002 and since then have propped up the AFC South on 13 occasions. 4-12 has been the Browns most common seasonal outcome since 2002 and they’ve only won a combined four games in completed seasons since 2014.

Therefore, their present 3-6-1 record can be considered a recent high for the franchise.

Particularly as it includes an overtime tie with Pittsburgh, three defeats by a three-point margin and a more robust showing against KC and New Orleans, in stark contrast to Cincinnati’s tame capitulation against the same opposition.

Cleveland’s dearth of wins has at least provided the side with regular, high draft choices and a squad with steadily improving depth, even if it hasn’t always been utilized well.

Granted the number one pick in 2018 draft, they selected Baker Mayfield at quarterback and although he was intended to sit behind Tyrod Taylor, the latter’s week three injury advanced the process.

Mayfield oversaw a come from behind win over the Jets, ending the Browns’ 18 game non-winning streak and he has continued to impress as a rookie.

Mayfield’s passing efficiency is around par for the NFL defences he has come up against and he’s backed up by a well above average running game.

Inconsistency should be expected, he’s hit game completion highs of 85%, but also lows of sub 50%, but he is performing to similar levels to Taylor’s 2017 season when he was in Buffalo and is a huge upgrade for the Browns compared to their 2017 campaign.

Cleveland’s dearth of wins has at least provided the side with regular, high draft choices and a squad with steadily improving depth, even if it hasn’t always been utilized well.

Cleveland is still a mid-table offence, but they were rock bottom in 2017 and with a bye week behind them to further integrate Mayfield, they are as pleasingly placed as they could have hoped for, going into the meeting with Cincinnati.

Defensively they have also shown improvement. They were an average defensive unit in 2017, but in keeping with the demands of the NFL, they impress most against the pass in 2018, while defending the run with only slightly below par efficiency and they’ve crept into the top ten.

They are also winning the turnover battle, but this is the least sustainable of their improving traits.

Week 12 predictions: Where is the Value?

There’s very little between these two teams, despite the Browns occupying their customary 4th position in the division.

Comparing the points scoring and conceding rates of both teams, the host Bengals are favoured by three points at home, with a likely total of around 49 points.

But Cleveland have an attractive match up of an improving offence against a poor Bengals defence and they also appear capable of shading the contest when the host offence takes to the field.

Therefore, the Browns getting the points are taken to edge out the Bengals.

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