Cincinnati Bengals (5-8) at Minnesota Vikings (10-3)
The Vikings lost last week as 3-point favorites in Carolina, but this line still moved from Minnesota -9 over Cincinnati on the early line last week to -11 this week, as a result of the Bengals’ 33-7 home loss to the Chicago Bears. I haven’t soured on the Bengals quite as much as the general public seems to have. The Bears have been an underrated team for most of the season and the Bengals were also in a terrible spot, missing a couple key players with injury, coming off of a close loss at home to the division rival Steelers, with this tough game in Minnesota on deck.
Even with the big loss last week, the Bengals still rank 20th in first down rate differential at -0.86%. They aren’t the same team without stud linebacker Vontaze Burfict, who remains out with a concussion for the 2nd straight game, but they could get running back Joe Mixon back from a one-game absence with his concussion after he returned to practice on Thursday and Friday. They also are fortunate enough to be playing a Minnesota team that is having their own injury issues. Right tackle Mike Remmers and center Pat Elflein are set to return from injuries, but left tackle Riley Reiff and tight end Kyle Rudolph will miss this game.
Minnesota is also in a terrible spot this week, much like the Bengals were last week. They are coming off of a tough loss to the Panthers and have to turn around and go to Green Bay next week to face Aaron Rodgers and company. Double digit favorites typically don’t cover before being underdogs, which is what the Vikings will be in Green Bay next week. Teams are 58-78 ATS in that spot since 2002. The Bengals, meanwhile, should be completely focused with only a home game against the Lions on deck, especially given how they got embarrassed last week.
Much like the Bears caught the Bengals off guard last week, the Bengals could easily catch the Vikings off guard this week. They’re probably not going to win easily like the Bears did last week, as the Vikings are still a lot better coached and more talented than the Vikings, but they could easily keep this close against a Minnesota team that has just 4 wins by more than 10 points this season (Buccaneers, Packers, Rams, Browns). The Bengals are worth a bet as long as this line is 10 or higher.
Minnesota Vikings 20 Cincinnati Bengals 13
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +11