I've decided to take a different strategy for picking my blowout this week. Rather than look for the highest point spreads, and picking which one is the most likely, I've looked at the more middle-of-the-road spreads, and picked one I think is primed for a blowout. So rather than pick, for example, Colts/Seahawks or Niners/Rams, or heck even Bears/Lions, I went with:
Cincinnati Bengals @ Cleveland Browns
Line: Bengals by 6
Considering how abysmal the Browns have been so far, and how impressive the Bengals were against the Packers and Steelers, I think a 6 point line is a little low. A team led by Carson Palmer, with a re-energized defense, and sporting dynamic receivers and a solid run game is favored by less than a touchdown? I don't think so.
This is a division game, and those are always a little tricky to pick. Teams that stink (Cleveland) can usually muster up some decent play against a division foe, making the line kinda wobbly. The Browns, however, are a mess. You know you're in trouble when your best aspect is your special teams, specifically Josh Cribbs. The defense just plain isn't good, and the offense has been, in a word, catastrophic. Brady Quinn was miserable in 2.5 starts. Derek Anderson comes in for one half, and throws 3 picks. What's amazing is that this is basically the same team that went 10-6 two years ago. Why are they so bad now?
Two words: Eric Mangini. The guy can't coach for crap, and I can't wrap my head around why the Browns were so high on him. Being a Giants fan, I clearly remember Mangini being run out of town with torches and pitchforks, and yet Cleveland welcomed him like some kind of Messiah. How's that working out? Regarded as a defensive mastermind, his system is bland and ineffective. Absent any talented skill players, his offense is truly horrid to watch.
Cincinnati, on the other hand, seems to have gotten their act together. No longer a collection of thugs and miscreants, this talented team is finally playing at the level many thought they should have been for years. There is a ton of talent all over the offense, from Palmer to Johnson and Coles, heck even Cedric Benson has experienced a revival for the Bengals. The defense, under coordinator Mike Zimmer, has been much improved, and may even be called decent. The Bengals are on the rise, and are primed to be a force to be reckoned with at last.
I don't think the Browns can even try to keep this one close. Cincy's offense is way too much for the Browns' D, and the Bengals can handle whatever offense the Browns think they can muster. Cleveland should at least score, maybe on a Cribbs return, but they'll never even be in this one.