The Cleveland Browns are a perplexing team. On one hand, they're 5-3 with wins against the New Orleans Saints and Pittsburgh Steelers. On the other, three of their wins are against the Tennessee Titans, Oakland Raiders and Tampa Bay Buccaneers (combined 3-21 record) and the Browns have been blown out by the Jacksonville Jaguars. So are the Browns a legitimate contender for the AFC North? Or are they a midseason mirage?
We'll start to find out on Thursday Night Football, when they face off against the division rival Cincinnati Bengals for the first time this season. Cincy seems to have its legs back after stumbling through two losses and a tie coming out of its Week 4 bye. The Bengals have won two consecutive games, including a come-from-behind victory against the Baltimore Ravens two weeks ago.
The AFC North has been surprisingly strong -- all four teams are currently above .500. The Bengals sit on top at 5-2-1 for now, but the Browns could overtake them with a win Thursday night (though the Steelers could come out of the weekend with the division lead if they beat the lowly New York Jets Sunday).
The Bengals' offense has been up-and-down this season, but Cincinnati played one of its best offensive games of the season last week. Wide receiver A.J. Green returned and helped Cincinnati average 6.3 yards per play, one of its best marks of the season. Giovanni Bernard's status remains uncertain, but rookie Jeremy Hill filled in well last week racking up 154 yards on 24 rushing attempts. Cleveland has struggled against the run this season, allowing 4.8 yards per attempt -- fourth-worst in the league.
Here's how you can catch the game:
How to Watch
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati
When: 8:25 p.m. ET
TV: NFL Network
Online Streaming: Verizon NFL Mobile
The Bengals opened as 6-point home favorites, according to OddsShark. The over/under opened at 44.