2015 Week 9 Thursday Night ATS Pick
** As always, Thursday Night picks will be included as one of my five weekly picks. A full review of the previous week will be included when I pick the remaining four games this week**
Cleveland +11.5 @ Cincinnati
Cincinnati is most certainly a better team than Cleveland. Additionally, Cincinnati's offensive weapons present a serious mismatch for an injured Cleveland secondary. Layered on top of all of this is the fact that the Browns are starting an inexperienced and turnover prone Quarterback behind a porous offensive line. On first glance, tonight's game looks like a potential blowout for the Bengals. However, what Cleveland lacks in consistency and ability, it makes up for with explosiveness. With McCown, the Browns oscillated between being unable to protect their Quarterback for more than a second and hitting a big play down the field to Barnidge or Benjamin. A similar story unfolded defensively where teams ran at will and moved the ball until a player like Mingo made an athletic play that either forced a turnover or stalled a drive. As a result of this kind of play, the Browns have been surprisingly competitive against teams like the Broncos, Rams, and to a lesser degree Cardinals.
Coupled with the Browns deceptively competitive play is the fact that the Bengals are a division opponent with whom the Browns are intimately familiar. The Browns know the Bengals' offense as well as any team, which should help them keep it closer than many might expect. It's not insignificant to note that Dalton has historically struggled against this Browns team and in prime time. I won't go so far as to say that the Browns are a live dog at 11.5 points, but there are certainly enough supportive factors to believe that they will be competitive once again tonight.