Dallas Cowboys (6-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (7-5)
Someone check me for a concussion because I like the Bengals this week. It’s not that the Bengals are bad or anything, but I just haven’t picked them yet this year. It’s nothing against them or anything and I haven’t really been missing out as they’re just 6-6 ATS, but for whatever reason, I’ve never seen Cincinnati as the right side yet this season.
This week, I do. It’s not so much about the Bengals as it is about the Cowboys. The Cowboys really are not a very good team this year and this line says these two teams are comparable, which I don’t find to be true. The Cowboys really struggle as home favorites since Cowboys stadium opened in 2009, going 9-17 ATS. The opposite happens somewhat when they are road dogs, but not a ton as they are 10-6 ATS since 2009 as road dogs.
However, Tony Romo is awful in week 14 or later, going 10-20 ATS in his career. The Bengals, meanwhile, are 4-12 ATS as home favorites since 2009, but 3-4 ATS since Andy Dalton took over. That doesn’t sound like much, but it’s definitely worth noting that they always kill non-playoff teams. Last year, they went 9-0 against non-playoff teams (and 0-8 against playoff teams).
This year, I believe they are 6-2 against non-playoff teams and 1-3 against teams I think will make the playoffs (they beat Giants/Redskins, one of which will make the playoffs, and lost to Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and Denver). The Cowboys definitely would seem to fall into the non-playoff category, so the Bengals should be able to win. This is a pretty small line, so that matters.
Speaking of this line, as I mentioned, it’s too small. These two teams are not equal. Net points per drive backs this up. The Bengals rank 7th at 0.48, while the Cowboys rank 17th at -0.08. If you take the difference and multiply by 11 (the average number of drives per team per game) and add 3 points for home field, you get Cincinnati -9.
DVOA seems to support this as the Bengals rank 12th, but 9th in weighted DVOA, which gives higher weight to more recent games. The Cowboys, meanwhile, rank 16th, but 19th in weighted. They’re just not a very good team and they’re not going to get better now that it’s December. We also get to fade a public dog, however small, by taking Cincinnati. It’s a small play on the Bengals.
Public lean: Dallas (50% range)
Sharps lean: DAL 19 CIN 10
Final thoughts: I’m dropping down to 1 unit. Like Chiefs/Panthers last week, I have no idea how the death of teammate Jerry Brown in a drunk driving accident with teammate Josh Brent as the driver will affect this team. There’s no one way tragic events effect teams, so I’m dropping down because I have zero confidence in either side now.
Final thoughts II: For purely confidence pools purposes, I’m going to go with the Cowboys money line in this one. I don’t love either side because we don’t know how the Cowboys’ tragedy will effect this one, but I’d rather have Dallas +155 than Cincinnati -3 in what should be a true toss up. It also feels better to be on the side of the Cowboys after what happened yesterday and on a small pick that doesn’t really matter and that counts for something.
Dallas Cowboys 23 Cincinnati Bengals 20 Upset Pick +155
Pick against spread: Dallas +3 (-110) 0 units