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Browns vs. Bengals: ‘Monday Night Football’ game pick and open thread

Cincinnati seeks its third straight win as they attempt to re-establish themselves as AFC contenders

Syndication: Akron Beacon Journal Jeff Lange / USA TODAY NETWORK

After an exciting Sunday full of surprises, we get a clash of AFC North opponents who are looking up at the Baltimore Ravens in the standings. The Cincinnati Bengals are headed to Ohio to take on the Cleveland Browns on Monday Night Football.

The defending AFC champion Bengals will be without their best receiver for this one, as wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase is dealing with a hip injury that will keep him sidelined for some time. The initial reports were that he would be sent to Injured Reserve and miss 4-6 weeks. However, there is optimism that he can return sooner, which led to the decision to keep him off IR. Quarterback Joe Burrow doesn’t lack for weapons without Chase, as wideout Tee Higgins and running back Joe Mixon are expected to step up and help this offense continue to roll.

The Browns are struggling to stay relevant until quarterback Deshaun Watson comes back from suspension. Jacoby Brissett is not a bad quarterback, but the team certainly hoped to have a better record than 2-5 at this point of the season—and now they go up against one of the better defenses in the league. Through their first seven games, Cincinnati allowed just 5.2 yards per play (ninth in NFL), a 75.2 passer rating (fourth-lowest), and a 38.9% red zone scoring rate (third-best). Browns running back Nick Chubb will have to have an amazing game to help the Browns pull this one out.

The Bengals are three-point favorites on the road, per DraftKings Sportsbook, and I’m going with the Bengals tonight. The defensive dominance will be the only factor necessary. Brissett will not be able to score enough points to keep up with Burrow and company. I expect the Bengals to win by more than a field goal as well, so they will cover the spread.