The Browns are more talented than the Bengals.
If winning were that simple, the Browns would be headed to the playoffs.
The Bengals controlled the game Dec. 8 in Cleveland, but the Browns were able to make enough big plays to escape with a 27-19 victory. Denzel Ward had a pick-6, Nick Chubb had a 57-yard run and the defense got four stops inside the red zone, including one on fourth down in the fourth quarter.
The rematch is on the Ohio River, and whatever Bengals fans are in attendance can feel free to cheer for the home team to win after it locked up the No. 1 pick in the draft — the right to draft LSU quarterback Joe Burrow — last week.
The Bengals (1-14) will be motivated to finish on a high note and give quarterback Andy Dalton a victory in what could be his final game after nine years as the starter.
The Browns (6-9) saw their playoff hopes end last week in a loss to the Ravens but also want to end on a positive, avoid double-digit losses, make sure Chubb wins the rushing title and get receiver Odell Beckham Jr. to 1,000 yards.
The outcome of a “meaningless” game like this shouldn’t influence whether coach Freddie Kitchens returns for a second season, but you never know what owners Dee and Jimmy Haslam are thinking. Kitchens, at the least, must avoid an ugly loss that tips the scales toward firing.
I expect a fun game, then a ton of questions about Kitchens’ future.
THE PICK: The Browns were in danger of losing three weeks ago to the Bengals and don’t have the playoffs as incentive this time. I still think they manage to end the season on a winning note. Browns 31, Bengals 30.