CINCINNATI (10-6) at CLEVELAND (7-9)
Sunday, 1 p.m. ET, Fox
BETTING LINE: Bengals by 3, according to FanDuel SportsBook.
AGAINST THE SPREAD: Bengals 9-7; Browns 7-9.
SERIES RECORD: Bengals lead 51-45.
LAST MEETING: Browns beat Bengals 41-16 on Nov. 7, 2021 in Cincinnati.
LAST WEEK: Bengals beat Chiefs 34-31; Browns lost to Steelers 26-14.
BENGALS OFFENSE: OVERALL (9), RUSH (22), PASS (7), SCORING (5).
BENGALS DEFENSE: OVERALL (18), RUSH (5), PASS (27), SCORING (T17).
BROWNS OFFENSE: OVERALL (18), RUSH (4), PASS (26), SCORING (20).
BROWNS DEFENSE: OVERALL (6), RUSH (16), PASS (6), SCORING (T17).
TURNOVER DIFFERENTIAL: Bengals minus-2; Browns minus-1.
BENGALS PLAYER TO WATCH: Rookie WR Ja’Marr Chase is coming off a historic performance in the win over the Chiefs: 11 catches for 266 yards and three touchdowns. Chase struggled in the first meeting with the Browns, dropping two passes, one a potential TD.
BROWNS PLAYER TO WATCH: With Baker Mayfield sitting out the finale, backup QB Case Keenum will make his second start this season. Keenum led Cleveland to a win over Denver in December, and dismissed the notion there’s nothing on the line for backups and players looking to extend their careers.
KEY MATCHUP: Cincinnati’s speedy receiving corps vs. Cleveland defensive backs. Chase could sit out, but the Bengals still have weapons in Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd, who will put stress on a Cleveland secondary dealing with numerous injuries.
KEY INJURIES: Bengals QB Joe Burrow, who has a sore right knee and little finger on his throwing hand, is being held out ahead of the playoffs. Backup Brandon Allen will play instead. … Cincinnati also likely will be missing starters RB Joe Mixon, S Vonn Bell, DE Trey Hendrickson, C Trey Hopkins and G Quinton Spain, who were all placed on the COVID-19 reserve list this week. … Mayfield is missing the season finale so he can undergo shoulder surgery to repair a torn left labrum. He played most of the season hurt. … Coach Kevin Stefanski hadn’t ruled out starting RBs Nick Chubb (ribs) or Kareem Hunt (ankle) or CB Denzel Ward (groin) late in the week.
SERIES NOTES: The Browns have won six of the past seven matchups between the Ohio and AFC North rivals. … Before Cleveland’s recent run, Cincinnati won 12 of 15. … The Browns haven’t swept the season series in consecutive years since since 1993-94. … Cleveland’s 25-point win in November was the largest in the series since Cincinnati won 37-3 in 2015.
STATS AND STUFF: The Bengals clinched the AFC North last week with their come-from-behind win over the two-time defending conference champion Chiefs. … It’s quite a turnaround for the Bengals, who finished last in the division in 2020. They gone from worst to first five times in team history, also accomplishing it in 1970, ’81, ‘88 and ’90. … Chase’s 266 yards were the most receiving yards by rookie in a single game. …. Chase is the first rookie and fifth player in the Super Bowl era with 200-plus receiving yards in two or more games. … Boyd has TD catches in the last three games. He has 70-plus yards and receiving TDs in two of the past three against Cleveland. … LB Logan Wilson had eight tackles last week, giving him at least five tackles in 12 of the 13 games he’s played this season. … The Bengals have the fewest penalties in the NFL (68) and the fewest penalty yards (588). … Cincinnati is second in the league in yards per pass play (8.9). … Burrow is tops in the league in completion percentage (70.4) and yards per passing attempt (8.87), and second in passer rating (108.3). …. Mixon’s 1,205 rushing yards are the second most in the league behind the Colts’ Jonathan Taylor, who has 1,734. … Rookie K Evan McPherson’s nine field goals of 50 more yards are best in the NFL. … The Browns are looking to end a dreary, disappointing season on a positive note and finish 3-3 in the division. … Keenum will make his second start for Mayfield. Keenum filled in on Oct. 21 against Denver and led the Browns to a 17-14 win. He completed 21 of 33 passes for 199 yards and one TD. He also had a key third-down scramble to set up another score. … Chubb is third in the league with 1,201 yards rushing. His 5.48 average per attempt leads all backs. Chubb joined Browns Hall of Famers Jim Brown (seven times) and Leroy Kelly (twice) as the only backs in team history to rush for more than 1,200 in multiple seasons. … DE Myles Garrett is third in the league with 15 sacks, a team single-season record. He has 6 1/2 sacks in six games against the Bengals. … Ward intercepted Burrow and returned it 99 yards for a game-swinging TD in the Nov. 7 matchup. … This is last game for former Browns tackle and color commentator Doug Dieken, who is retiring from broadcasting. Dieken played for Cleveland from 1971-85 before transitioning to his radio gig.
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