Cincinnati Bengals (4-2) at Detroit Lions (4-2)
These two teams are about as evenly matched as two teams can be. They are 9th (Lions) and 10th (Bengals) in my Power Rankings. They have the same record (4-2). The Lions have outscored opponents by a few more points on the season (+22 vs. +10), but the Bengals have played a slightly tougher schedule, as the Lions’ opponents are a combined 3 games under .500, while the Bengals’ opponents are a combined 2 games above .500. The Bengals are slightly better in DVOA, about 5%, as they are 9th and the Lions are 12th. Both teams have had injuries to significant players who have since returned, Leon Hall, Michael Johnson, Andrew Whitworth and Reggie Nelson for the Bengals and Calvin Johnson and Reggie Bush for the Lions.
In terms or rate of moving the chains, they have very, very similar differentials, with the Bengals about 3/100ths of a percent better than the Lions. The Lions are doing it more with offense, moving the chains at a 77% rate, while their opponents move the chains at a 74% rate. The Bengals, meanwhile, have an offense that moves the chains at a 74% rate, but their defense holds opponents to a 71% rate. And to top it off, this line essentially suggests these two teams are exactly even with the Lions favored by 2.5 points at home.
The Bengals do have a trend on their side. Non-divisional road dogs are 95-61 ATS since 1989 before being non-divisional home favorites. With only a game against the Jets next on the schedule, the Bengals could be more focused than the Lions, who play the Cowboys next week. However, I’d actually go with the Lions if I had to take a side. I don’t like the way the Bengals have played on the road this season, losing in Chicago, Cleveland, and going to overtime in Buffalo. You couldn’t pay me to put money on either side though (well you probably could, but still).
Detroit Lions 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Pick against spread: Detroit -2.5