St. Louis Rams (4-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-2)
The Bengals were favored by just 7 points in this game against the Rams on the early line last week, but the line has since moved to 9.5. Ordinarily, I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week, but I still don’t think this line is high enough. While the Bengals rank 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential, the Rams rank all the way down at 28th, so this is really a matchup between one of the worst teams in the league and one of the best. The Bengals should be at least double digit favorites. The Rams have a strong defense, but their offense is easily the worst in the NFL as they have a below average starter at every position except for running back and arguably the worst starting quarterback in the NFL. On top of that, they could be without defensive end Robert Quinn for the 3rd straight game. Their defense has unsurprisingly not been the same without him.
The Bengals are also in a way better spot, as they go to Cleveland to play the lowly Browns next week, while the Rams host the division leading Cardinals. The Bengals are expected to be favored by a touchdown in Cleveland, according to the early line, and teams are 73-52 ATS since 2010 before being road favorites of 6+ and 47-25 ATS before being road favorites of 7+. On top of that, favorites of 6+ are 113-73 ATS before being favorites of 6+ again, since 2010.
Meanwhile, the Rams are expected to be home underdogs of 6 against the Cardinals, according to the early line. Teams are 41-86 ATS since 2010 before being 6+ point home underdogs and 6+ point underdogs are 73-101 ATS before being 6+ point underdogs again, over that same time period. Combining everything, 6+ point favorites are 36-13 ATS since 2010 before being 6+ point favorites again when their opponent will next be 6+ point underdogs. While the Rams could definitely be distracted with a huge home game on deck, the Bengals have a very easy game on deck and should be completely focused to blow out a significantly inferior opponent this week.
The only thing the Rams have going for them is that they are in their 2nd straight road game, following their loss in Baltimore last week. Teams are 125-88 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 102-60 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. Historically, teams cover at about a 65% rate in that situation. 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 217-215 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.33 points per game, as opposed to 304-424 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.93 points per game. Still, as long as this line is single digits, I’m confident enough in Cincinnati to put money on them.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 St. Louis Rams 10
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -9.5