Who Wins the NFL's Battle of Ohio in Week 1: Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns?

Dan Favale
By , Updated on: Sep 4, 2023 12:00 AM
Which NFL team wins the Week 1 Battle of Ohio: Cincinnati Bengals or Cleveland Browns?

Another Battle of Ohio is about to commence between the Cincinnati Bengals and Cleveland Browns during Week 1 of the 2023 NFL regular season

This time, Cincinnati will be the away team, traveling to Cleveland Browns Stadium in Cleveland, Ohio, for kick-off on Sunday, September 10, at 1 p.m. eastern standard time. Of course, we needn’t get too caught up with the Bengals playing in “hostile” territory. Plenty of Cincy fans will be in attendance. Such is the case when two teams from the same state go head-to-head.

To their credit, the Browns have dominated this matchup since quarterback Joe Burrow joined the Bengals. Cleveland is 4-1 when going up against Cincinnati’s star under center. Can they push it to 5-1 on Sunday? The latest NFL online betting odds for Browns vs. Bengals don’t seem to think so:  

FavoriteBovadaBovadaUnderdog
Cincinnait Bengals-134+114Cleveland Browns

Like always, please remember to double-check these online NFL betting odds until you actually submit your wager. Our Bengals vs. Browns Week 1 betting odds are accurate as of Sunday, September 3. That gives the best online sportsbooks in the United States plenty of time to make adjustments prior to the opening kick-off on Sunday afternoon. And rest assured, there will be changes. Not only are these NFL betting lines fairly close together, but Week 1 games are always subject to starker tweaks, since the markets don’t yet have an in-season sample size off which to work.

This matchup, in particular, can be tough to wrap our head around without seeing these two squads spit out prior reps. Questions abound. Can Joe Burrow make the leap to MVP candidate? What will Browns quarterback Deshaun Watson look like after getting a full training camp with the team? Did Cleveland’s defense improve enough—or at all? Without further ado, let’s get to our Browns vs. Bengals Week 1 predictions!

Are Oddsmakers Giving the Cincinnati Bengals Enough Credit?

Billing the Bengals as slight favorites feels like a miss on behalf of oddsmakers. Well that, or the early markets are showing waaay too much faith in the Browns.

Cincinnati just ranked in the top seven of both points scored and points allowed last season. That balance should earn them consideration when it comes to betting on which NFL team wins the Super Bowl. It’d be one thing if the Bengals lost a bunch of talent over the offseason, or if they were dealing with a surplus of injuries. They aren’t. They are fairly healthy and fully loaded.

Bengals skeptics still act like Burrow has somehow disappointed under center. Many even posit Cincy is too reliant on the run. Nothing could be further from the truth. The Bengals had one of the best passing attacks in the NFL last year, ranking fifth in total yards and second in total touchdowns. Burrow may not indulge the long ball as often as, say, Patrick Mahomes of the Kansas City Chiefs. But is that really an insult? Cincinnati still ranked eighth in net yards per passing attempt for the 2022 season.

Game location isn’t an excuse, either. Never mind that the Bengals remain in Ohio for this “away” game. They had one of the five best point differentials on the road last year, trailing only the Chiefs, Buffalo Bills, Philadelphia Eagles and Dallas Cowboys.

Some semblance of respect must be shown for the Browns. Deshaun Watson is among the best QBs in the game, and he has a smattering of weapons to target in Amari Cooper, Elijah Moore and David Njoku. But Watson is also now years removed from his absolute peak. And more than that, the Browns ranked 20th in points allowed per game last season and haven’t made any groundbreaking additions on that end of the ball.

Make no mistake, Cleveland should be a better team this year compared to last. But frankly, they aren’t in the same league as these Bengals.

OSB Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals (-134)

Cincinnati Bengals To beat the Cleveland Browns
Bovada
-134

Don’t Bother Investing in the Cleveland Browns Point Spread Against Cincinnati

Here are the latest NFL point spread betting odds for Browns vs. Bengals:

  • Cincinnati Bengals, -2.5 (-110)
  • Cleveland Browns, +2.5 (-110)

We’re not very confident that the Browns can keep this contest close. The offense looks good on paper with Watson, but it didn’t exactly set the world on fire when he played last year. Through the six games Watson played after returning from his suspension following a multitude of credible sexual assault allegations, the Browns averaged just 16.3 points while topping the 25-point plateau only once. 

Scoring should be harder to come by against the Bengals defense. They ranked fourth in total passing touchdowns allowed last season. 

OSB Prediction: Cincinnati Bengals, -2.5 (-110)

Cincinnati Bengals To cover the point spread against the Cleveland Browns
Bovada
-110

Predicting the Finals Score of Browns vs. Bengals

Below you can see the latest over/under betting odds for Bengals vs. Browns: 

  • Over 47.5 (-110)
  • Under 47.5 (-110)

It’s a cliche to say this, but we don’t care: Damn, the linemakers are good at their jobs. This is the perfect score total, so much so that trying to lean one way or the other gave us a headache.

Ultimately, we like the “under.” We don’t trust the Browns’ passing attack under Watson just yet and could see them trying to work the run game in an attempt to control the clock and possession count.

Let’s also not discount the possibility that the Bengals do the same after jumping out to an early and/or large lead. Controlling the number of possessions is among their specialties, and Cleveland’s defense last year struggled against short- and medium-yard coverages. If Cincy works the middle of the field effectively enough, the Browns could find themselves trailing time of possession by an insurmountable margin.

OSB Prediction: Under 47.5 (-110)

Bengals and Browns To score under 47.5 combined points
Bovada
-110

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Meet the author

Dan Favale

Dan first began writing about sports back in 2011. At the time, his expertise lied in the NBA and NFL. More than one decade, that remains the case. But he's also expanded his catalog to include extensive knowledge and analysis on the NHL, MLB, tennis, NASCAR, college ba...

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