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Browns Welcome Bengals; Manziel Gets Nod

Johnny Manziel will make his first NFL start on Sunday as the Browns host the Bengals.

Johnny Manziel will make his first NFL start on Sunday as the Browns host the Bengals.

Division rivals meet Sunday as the Cincinnati Bengals visit the Cleveland Browns in a game that will have a huge impact on the AFC North standings.

Kickoff at FirstEnergy Stadium in Cleveland is scheduled for 1:00 p.m. ET.

The Bengals will look to keep a nose ahead in the race for the division title with a win, while the Browns will turn to rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel to try and stoke a fire under a side that has simmered over the past month.

The Story So Far

For a team that has just four losses on the season, Cincinnati (8-4-1, 4-2 road) has done little to endeavor itself to fans, bettors and pundits alike.

Marvin Lewis’ side has been remarkably inconsistent as the season has rolled on, stringing together impressive winning streaks before slipping on the odd banana skin.

A week ago, the Bengals came undone against division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers outscored the Bengals 25-0 in the fourth quarter to take the victory and cut Cincinnati’s lead at the top of the division to just one-half game.

Sunday’s loss snapped a streak of five wins in six games for the Bengals. The other loss during that stretch also came at home, against the Browns.

With a 2-2 divisional record, Cincinnati has little room to maneuver heading into the final three weeks of the season. With the Steelers (8-5) and Baltimore Ravens (8-5) competing in very winnable games this weekend, Andy Dalton and Co. need to avoid a loss at all costs.

Cleveland (7-6, 4-3 home) enters Sunday’s game simply looking to stay alive in not only the race for the AFC North crown but a playoff berth also.

The Browns have dropped two straight and three of the last four. Slipping to a 7-6 record and with six sides between them and a playoff berth, the road to the postseason looks almost insurmountable. It might not if the Browns can get a win on Sunday.

Head coach Mike Pettine will turn to Johnny Manziel under center (or out of the gun to be more specific). The 2012 Heisman Trophy winner will replace Brian Hoyer, who has been roughed up a lot over recent weeks.

Whether Manziel has the pedigree to be an NFL quarterback remains to be seen, but his presence could be the boost the Browns need to reverse their fortunes and head into Week 15 as a relevant side.


Since the sides first met in 1970, Cincinnati leads the all-time head-to-head series 43-39. The Browns are 24-16 at home against the Bengals during that time frame.

Cleveland has won three of the last four head-to-head meetings, including a 24-3 road victory when the two sides met at Paul Brown Stadium on November 6.

The Browns have won two straight and three of the last four when hosting the Bengals.

Cincinnati owns a marginal 8-7 advantage at Cleveland Browns Stadium / FirstEnergy Stadium since the Browns were resurrected in 1999.

Injury Report

Cleveland defensive back Tashaun Gipson (knee) is out indefinitely. Defensive tackle Desmond Bryant (thigh) and linebacker Karlos Dansby (knee) are among those players listed as questionable.

Cincinnati tight end Tyler Eifert (elbow) is designated to return while backup quarterback A.J. McCarron (shoulder) was activated from the non-football injury list for Sunday’s game.

Cornerbacks Terence Newman (ankle), Adam Jones (chest) and Dre Kirkpatrick (ribs) are among the Bengals players listed as questionable.

Check out the full injury list

Terence Newman and Adam Jones are both listed as questionable for Sunday's game.

Terence Newman and Adam Jones are both listed as questionable for Sunday’s game.

Betting Report

Below you’ll find Betting Sports’ breakdown of odds and betting trends.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Cleveland Browns odds for 12/14/2014

Moneyline: Cleveland (-114) opened as the favorite over Cincinnati (+103) on the moneyline but this is a true pick’em game.

The Browns have lost two straight and three of the last four. They need a win on Sunday afternoon.

The Bengals have won five of their last seven, but fell at home to the Steelers last weekend.

Both sides have an identical 2-2 record in divisional play.

Spread: The spread opened at 2 in favor of the Bengals before shifting. At the time of writing some sportsbooks had the two teams even while others had the Browns at -1.

Cleveland (7-5-1 ATS) has fared slightly better against the spread than Cincinnati (6-6-1 ATS) has this season.

The Browns are 4-3-0 ATS at home while the Bengals are 3-3-0 ATS on the road.

The Browns are 2-3-1 ATS when considered the favorite and 5-2-0 ATS when playing as an underdog. The Bengals are 2-3-1 ATS when playing as the favorite and 4-1-0 ATS when considered the underdog. Both sides have good reason to hope to be the underdog.

Cleveland is 4-1-1 ATS in its last six games against Cincinnati and 3-1-0 ATS in its last four hosting the Bengals.

Cleveland covered the spread in Week 10’s showdown between the sides.

Total: The total opened at 44.5 and has slipped slightly heading towards kickoff.

Cincinnati (9-4-0 O/U) has favored the over this season while Cleveland (5-8-0 O/U) has favored the under.

The over has paid out in five of the last seven head-to-head meetings. The over has also paid out in four of Cincinnati’s last five trips to Cleveland.

The under paid out when the two sides met back in November.


For an up-to-date list of Week 15 NFL odds, click here.

For a full list of NFL Futures, click here.

For NFL team prop bets, click here.

For NFL player prop bets, click here.

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