Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) at New England Patriots (4-1)
The Patriots got a big 20 point win in Cleveland last week, while the Bengals lost by 14 points in Dallas. As a result, this line has moved from 7 on the early line last week to 9 this week. I think this line is too high now. The Patriots’ performance was impressive, but the Bengals are a much tougher opponent than the Browns. The Patriots are a top-5 team with Tom Brady back, but the Bengals are better than this line and their record suggest. They’re 2-3, but all 3 of their losses came against tough opponents, Denver, Pittsburgh, and Dallas. They’re not as good as they were last year, missing injured tight end Tyler Eifert, and free agent departures Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu, Reggie Nelson, and Leon Hall. However, they’re still a legitimate playoff contender.
They’re also in a great spot here, even against a tough New England team. For one, they’re in their second straight road game. Teams are 133-98 ATS as road underdogs off a road loss since 2008, including 108-66 ATS when it’s their 2nd of 2 road games. 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 233-234 straight up in their 2nd of two road games since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 0.49 points per game, as opposed to 333-455 straight up in their 1st of one road game since 2008, getting outscored by an average of 2.80 points per game.
The Bengals also have a very easy game on deck against the Browns. The early line has them as 10.5 point favorites, a big swing from this game. Underdogs of 6 or more are 40-30 ATS since 2008 before being favorites of 6 or more. It’s much easier to keep it close against a superior opponent if you don’t have a tough game upcoming to provide as a distraction. The Patriots, meanwhile, go to Pittsburgh next week for arguably their toughest regular season game. As long as you can get it higher than a touchdown, it’s worth putting money on the Bengals. This figures to be a close game.
New England Patriots 24 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +9