Cincinnati Bengals (PK)* at Cleveland Browns
We always look at the numbers. Last week, with the state of the Cleveland quarterback situation largely in flux, we detached any analysis of the two teams, themselves, from the pick. Instead, we focused only on the spread and its reaction to the eventual announcement that Brian Hoyer would start against the Colts.
This week, we do it again.
The opening spread for this game was a modest one-and-a-half points given from the Bengals to the Browns. By Tuesday afternoon, the game had moved to a ‘Pick-’em,’ where there were no points being given from either team. What changed?
Only the quarterback of the Cleveland Browns. The same quarterback that is arguably one of the most divisive players in professional sports, today. That’s all.
The story told by the numbers is blatantly obvious. Last week, with the belief – and, eventual confirmation – that Hoyer would start, people poured in to back the Colts. The perception, as we love to point out, was that Hoyer was ill-suited to lead his team to victory. Maybe that was true, but he led them to beat the spread.
The perception, therefore, is that Johnny Manziel, the former backup quarterback — don’t overlook the commonly used phrase that the ‘backup quarterback is everyone’s favorite player’ — will now lead the Browns to victory. When perception and reality are misaligned, we always oppose the popular belief.
Cincinnati wins by two touchdowns and covers.