Browns Wire staff predictions: Can Cleveland make it 12 despite resting starters?

Welcome to Week 18 as the Cleveland Browns end it how they started it: a matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals.

Quarterback Joe Flacco, defensive end Myles Garrett, and a plethora of Cleveland starters will not suit up in this game as the Browns already have the fifth seed in the AFC locked down. The Bengals, however, are expected to play all of their starters despite the final chapter of their season’s end already written.

However, do not expect the Browns and those players who have been chomping at the bit for playing time to back down as they travel to Cincinnati. Can quarterback Jeff Driskel and the Cleveland youngsters still get the job done as the Browns have the chance to win their 12th game for the first time since 1986?

Here, our Browns Wire staff makes their last predictions of the regular season as Cleveland just needs to get out of this game in full health.

Jacob Roach (@roachizm13): Browns over Bengals

Browns Bengals
(Photo by Richard Rodriguez/Getty Images)

It’s hard to believe that the Browns are resting players in the final regular season to get prepared for the postseason. But here we are with Cleveland traveling to Cincinnati to take on the Bengals who also have nothing to play for. It’s time for young players like Siaki Ika, Pierre Strong Jr., and Cedric Tillman to show what they can do.

The Bengals will likely rest some players at times and it could be an ugly game overall to end the regular season. However, I think the Browns will still play hard as they have all season regardless of who is on the field and I’ll go with Cleveland to get its first 12-win regular season since the 80’s.

Browns win 27-24.

Browns Alchemy (@BrownsAlchemy): Browns over Cardinals

Browns Bengals
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

The Cleveland Browns will play for pride against the Bengals. The team has proved to everyone this season that they are prideful. It’s what has given them the edge against the best teams in the NFL. Sunday will be no different when the younger players and backups take the fields. They’re a group hungry for this opportunity.

They know this game is their last opportunity to play for the season. They will be evaluated on it. The Browns have the gameplan to beat the Bengals. It’s up to the players to execute. And I believe they will. I expect big games from promising young players like Alex Wright, Cedric Tillman, and Cameron Mitchell.

Browns win 23-13.

Tyler Greenawalt (@TyGreen14): Seahawks over Browns

Browns Bengals
(Photo by Nick Cammett/Getty Images)

The only thing that matters about this game for the Cleveland Browns is beating an AFC North rival. Otherwise, it’s all about personnel evaluation, staying healthy, and trying out new wrinkles – basically another preseason game.

Jeff Driskel has experience starting, so the offense won’t look horrific, but he likely won’t find much success without the Browns’ starters and if the Cincinnati Bengals play all their defensive starters. Cleveland proved throughout the year it can compete even without starters, and should be able to keep this game close. Expect the Bengals to win, though, in a close one.

Browns lose 20-21.

Cory Kinnan (@fakecorykinnan): Browns over Bengals

Browns Bengals
Mandatory Credit: Ken Blaze-USA TODAY Sports

This game is more about putting young players and backups under a microscope and keeping starters healthy for the playoffs.

There is excitement, however, to see guys like Siaki Ika, Isaiah McGuire, Luke Wypler, and others who have not played a ton to get significant snaps against the Bengals. Expect the Browns to tinker and make some decisions they would not usually make in a game that mattered as well.

The potential for chaos in this game is high.

However, the Bengals have nothing to play for after a disappointing season and will likely be without Tee Higgins. The Browns continue to play whistle-to-whistle with heart as the youngsters and backups find their way to a fun win.

Browns win 21-10.

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Story originally appeared on Browns Wire