Denver Broncos (11-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (9-4-1)
The Bengals had a huge performance in Cleveland last week, winning the first down battle 24-5 against the Browns and moving the chains at a 78.38% rate, as opposed to 35.71% for their opponents. However, they still rank just 17th in rate of moving the chains differential, moving them at a 72.13% rate, as opposed to 72.67% for their opponents, a differential of -0.54%. Meanwhile, the Broncos are best in the NFL, moving the chains at a 77.30% rate, as opposed to 71.20% for their opponents, a differential of 6.10%. Despite what the Bengals did last week, the Broncos definitely deserve to be field goal favorites here on the board.
The Broncos are also in a good spot in their 2nd straight road game, winning in San Diego last week. Teams are 56-37 ATS as road favorites off of a win as road favorites since 2002. This is because teams tend to do better in their 2nd straight road game than their first one, but lines don’t really adjust for this. Teams are 195-198 in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.31 points per game, as opposed to 272-389 in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 3.27 points per game.
On top of that, Manning has been very good in primetime games in his career, going 33-16 ATS in such games since 2003, over a decade ago. Andy Dalton doesn’t have the same amount of experience in these types of games so the sample size isn’t as big, but the Bengals don’t have a good history in games like this since he took over as the starter in 2011, going 2-9, including 3 playoff losses. Again, it’s a small sample size, but it’s definitely not good, especially when you compare it with Manning and his much larger sample size.
The Broncos also have the much easier game next week so they won’t be as distracted, as they host the Raiders in a game that could have this season’s biggest line. Non-divisional road favorites are 79-63 ATS since 2002 before being divisional home favorites. Going off of that, teams are 46-34 ATS since 2002 before being favorites of 14 or more. Meanwhile, the Bengals have an equally big, if not bigger, game next week in Pittsburgh, a divisional opponent who they are competing with for both the division crown and potentially a wild card spot. I like the Broncos chances of covering here a good amount.
Denver Broncos 27 Cincinnati Bengals 17
Pick against the spread: Denver -3