The Cincinnati Bengals (10-6) locked up a playoff spot and the AFC North division title last week. The Bengals have a meaningless game against the Cleveland Browns in Week 18, and they’re lucky because running back Joe Mixon tested positive for COVID-19, and quarterback Joe Burrow is nursing a leg injury.
Without Mixon, Samaje Perine is expected to start at running back for the Bengals. Backup QB Brandon Allen will replace Burrow on Sunday if he’s not able to play.
Meanwhile, the Browns (7-9) will be without their starting QB because Baker Mayfield underwent surgery to repair a torn labrum.
Oddsmakers adjusted the betting line in the Bengals/Browns game. Even without Mayfield, the Browns are now a -6 favorite against the resting Bengals. The Bengals are +2000 odds to win Super Bowl 56, according to the Westgate SuperBook. You can also back the Bengals at +900 odds to win the AFC Championship.
Cincy studs: Mixon, Burrow, Chase
In 16 games this season, Mixon rushed 292 times for 1,205 yards and 13 touchdowns. He’s ranked #2 overall in rushing behind Jonathan Taylor, and he’s ranked #4 in rushing touchdowns. Mixon added 42 catches for 314 yards and three touchdown receptions.
Head coach Zac Taylor, who is now the betting favorite to win the NFL Coach of the Year, has yet to make a decision about rookie Ja’Marr Chase on Sunday. All signs point to Chase earning a well-deserved rest in Wek 18.
The Bengals averaged 27.8 ppg this season, making them fifth-best in the NFL in scoring thanks to a familiar connection between Burrow and Chase. The two won a national championship at LSU three seasons ago. Burrow lobbied heavily for the Bengals to draft Chase, whom they selected with the fifth-overall pick in the 2021 NFL Draft.
Chase scored 13 touchdowns, which ranks him #2 in the NFL behind Cooper Kupp. He also caught 79 receptions for 1,429 yards, which is fourth-best in the league. Chase averages an NFL-high 18.1 yards per catch. Not bad for a rookie, eh? In a huge win against the Kansas City Chiefs, Chase torched their defense for 11 catches, 266 yards, and three touchdowns.
JA'MARR CHASE IS A CHEAT CODE!!
— Complex Sports (@ComplexSports) January 2, 2022
Chase is the betting favorite to win Offensive Rookie of the Year. You can back him at -250 odds at DraftKings. Mac Jones, the Patriots quarterback, is the only other name on the board at +190 odds.
In only his second season, Burrow tossed for 4,611 yards for 34 TDs and just 14 interceptions. He also completed 70.4% of his passes while adding two rushing scores.