Cincinnati Bengals (5-4) at Las Vegas Raiders (5-4)
Both of these teams are 5-4, but the Bengals hold a significant edge in point differential, +33 vs. -20. That normally would suggest that the Bengals are the better team, but that doesn’t take into account strength of schedule, which Cincinnati has had among the weakest. In schedule adjusted offensive, defensive, and special teams efficiency, the Raiders rank 18th, 4th, and 26th while the Bengals rank 24th, 15th, and 17th.
Despite that, the Bengals are favored here in Las Vegas. It’s only by a point, but it comes a week after the Raiders were just 2.5-point home underdogs against the Chiefs, so it’s a bit of a surprising line. The Raiders lost big to the Chiefs last week, but the Chiefs are a much better team than the Bengals and were due for a big game. That loss also puts the Raiders in a good spot this week, as teams tend to bounce back from big home losses as underdogs, covering the spread at a 59.0% rate as home underdogs the week following a loss by 14 points or more as home underdogs.
The week prior to last, the Raiders lost to the Giants, but the Giants are better than their record, were at home, and the Raiders still won the first down rate and yards per play battle, with the game swinging on the turnover margin, including a pick six, both of which are much less predictive than first down rate and yards per play. The public has noticed that the Raiders have not had good results in their two games without Henry Ruggs, but I don’t think it’s as bad as the final scores have looked and I don’t think Ruggs is as irreplaceable as the general public seems to think he was, so we’re getting some value with the Raiders, who are also in a good spot, back at home after a bad home loss. This isn’t a big play, but the Raiders should be the right side, both as a money line pick and against the spread.
Las Vegas Raiders 24 Cincinnati Bengals 20 Upset Pick +100
Pick against the spread: Las Vegas +1