David Chao, MD: Defensive Injuries Mean Browns-Bengals Could See Some Points

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The AFC North is known for hard-nosed defensive football but times are changing. Tonight’s matchup between the Bengals and Browns could prove entertaining offensively. With some defensive injuries and some healthy offensive firepower, there is potential for and entertaining matchup.

Currently the over/under is sitting at 43.5 on FanDuel — if you do not have an account get one now — and we expect a lot more that than.

Overall, the health of both defenses is relatively poor for early in the season with a B- grade. The Browns are short on corners and will miss their starting middle linebacker Mack Willson. The Bengals are short two defensive tackles including their best player Geno Atkins and their top free agent acquisition CB Trae Waynes. 

The Browns were lit up by the Ravens, and given the short week, the secondary is not likely to be any healthier than Week 1 when Cleveland was dominated by Lamar Jackson in the air. The 2019 MVP completed 80% of his passes for an outrageous average of 11 yards per attempt and 3 TDs, and would have had more but for the lopsided score. Meanwhile Marquise Brown averaged over 20 yards per catch totaling over 100 yards.

This week, rookie Joe Burrow has a chance to break out with a healthy offense that is only missing the starting right guard. With all the Browns CB issues, it may be hard for them to account for A.J. Green, John Ross and Tyler Boyd. Add in Joe Mixon and there are plenty of options on offense.

Offensively, the Bengals are healthier than the Browns. Cincinnati is only missing its right guard, while Cleveland has some issues at both tackles and center. AJ Green is finally healthy for the Bengals while Jarvis Landry is playing but still recovering from offseason hip surgery. Odell Beckham is healthy but had a quiet Week 1. The Browns do boast a pair of quality running backs in Nick Chubb and Kareem Hunt.

The injury index gives insight on specific matchups including the significant injury mismatch with an A- for the Bengals pass offense health against a C+ for the Browns pass defense. Given the short week, there is not much time for a fix.

Even though the Bengals travel on a short week, it is a quick flight for an in-state matchup for bragging rights in Ohio. The health grades favor the Bengals, especially on offense while both defenses have early season issues. 

The injury index and field views are not intended to be the only factor to making your fantasy/DFS/wagering decisions but they can be an important augment to one’s strategy. Go to www.profootballdoc.com to sign up or take advantage of the free trial offer to Outkick readers. 

Written by Dr. David Chao

David Chao, MD -- known digitally as Pro Football Doc -- is an expert contributor for Outkick. Chao spent 17 seasons as the team doctor for the San Diego Chargers (1997-2013) and is part of the medical team at OASIS in San Diego where he treats and specializes in orthopedic sports injuries, working with high-profile professional athletes from the NFL, NBA, and MLB.


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  1. After this article, the line moved to 44.5 but over did work out.
    Better yet the Browns were able to run due to D line injuries on Bengals.
    Bengals were able to pass due to Browns secondary health issues.
    Remember, these two teams put up a combined 19 points in week one and here each put up 30.
    Certainly in football, the ball is not round and takes funny bounces but the key is to have the best info and be on the right side. Use the link to try it free for Outkick readers. https://profootballdoc.com/#/register-founder?utm_source=outkick&utm_medium=pr&utm_campaign=2020

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