6 realistic expectations for Bengals vs Browns in Week 18
Get ready to get a good look at the backups
Bengals have zero starters play past halftime
We already know that Joe Burrow will not be playing on Sunday nor will Joe Mixon, Larry Ogunjobi, Trey Hendrickson, Vonn Bell, B.J. Hill, Trey Hopkins, or Quinton Spain due to landing on the COVID-19 list. With that in mind, it is safe to say that Cincinnati is going to create their BYE week now and get ready for the playoffs.
The stripes already know they have locked up a first-round home game, so there is only seeding left. The small outside chance that the Chiefs and Titans lose, allowing the Bengals to become the #1 seed, is so remote that it makes sense to rest and prepare. We’ll also know by the time Cincy takes the field if the Chiefs won or lost since they play on Saturday so that takes the suspense out of this game.
With that in mind, Cincinnati is not going to play any starter in the second half. Some players might see a possession or two, but that will fade and allow the second and third-string guys a chance to show what they can do over extended minutes.
Browns will go full strength
On the other side, the Browns aren’t going to do a similar thing. Baker Mayfield will not be playing, but beyond that, Cleveland will be playing at mostly full strength. Ending the season with a sweep against Cincinnati would certainly be a bright spot on an otherwise disappointing season.
If nothing else, the Browns can point to the scoreboard when Bengals fans come to talk trash.