Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: 2016 Week 17 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (5-9-1) at Baltimore Ravens (8-7)

When both are fully healthy, I have the Bengals a little higher than the Ravens, as they rank 14th in first down rate differential and the Ravens rank 21st, but the Bengals are far from fully healthy right now. Not only are they missing wide receiver AJ Green and running back Giovani Bernard, who they’ve been without for a while, but they’ve also lost guard Clint Boling, tight end Tyler Eifert, and linebacker Vontaze Burfict to injury in recent weeks, a trio of key players. The Ravens aren’t fully healthy at this point in the season (no one is), but they’re in much better shape injury wise than the Bengals. I still think we’re getting a little bit of line value with the Bengals as 1.5 point home underdogs, but I couldn’t be confident in them at all.

Baltimore Ravens 17 Cincinnati Bengals 16

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +1.5

Confidence: None

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Houston Texans at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 16 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8-1) at Houston Texans (7-7)

The Bengals were expecting to get top wide receiver AJ Green back from injury this week, after a 4-game absence with a hamstring injury. Green even said he was playing this week. However, at the end of a lost season, after getting eliminated in a close loss to the Steelers last week, the Bengals have decided to shut Green down for the rest of the regular season. Green won’t be the only absent Cincinnati player this week either, as he’ll be joined by top linebacker Vontaze Burfict and tight end Tyler Eifert, their top pass catcher in Green’s absence. Despite that, this line has shifted from 3 on the early line last week to 2.5 this week. The Texans could be without starting running back Lamar Miller, but we’re still not really getting any line value with the Bengals anymore. They’re still the pick here, but this is a no confidence pick because a field goal Houston victory is definitely a strong possibility.

Houston Texans 17 Cincinnati Bengals 16

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +2.5

Confidence: None

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Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 15 NFL Pick

Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)

The Steelers are getting a lot of attention and rightfully so. They are red hot right now in a league that lacks top level teams and they are arguably the 3rd scariest team in the league right now behind New England and Dallas. However, they are getting almost all of the public action right now as 3.5 point road favorites in Cincinnati, which I think is too many points. About 1 in 4 games are decided by a field goal or less and the Bengals are quietly playing very strong football right now too, even without Giovani Bernard and AJ Green, who remain out with injuries.

In 3 games since losing Bernard and Green, the Bengals have narrowly lost in Baltimore and have gotten big blowout victories at home against Philadelphia and on the road in Cleveland. Since they’re pretty much out of the playoff race, as a result of some close early losses, the Bengals aren’t getting a lot of attention, but they’re a dangerous team right now and are still a talented bunch without Green and Bernard. They rank 12th in first down rate differential, which is just a couple of spots behind Pittsburgh. Pittsburgh is obviously healthier right now, but I think we’re getting great value with the Bengals as 3.5 point home underdogs.

The Steelers haven’t been quite the same team on the road this season. Like they are here, in their final road game of the season, the Steelers were favored in their first 7 road games, but lost three of them straight up, in Philadelphia, Miami, and Baltimore. None of those games were even that close; the Ravens’ game was the closest one with a final score of 21-14. Cincinnati is just as good as any of those teams and even if they don’t win this game straight up they still have a good chance to cover the spread because they’re getting 3.5 points. They’re worth a bet at that number, especially since the odds makers stand to lose a lot of money if Pittsburgh covers.

Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 23

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +3.5

Confidence: Medium

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Cincinnati Bengals at Cleveland Browns: 2016 Week 14 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (4-7-1) at Cleveland Browns (0-12)

The Browns are 0-12 and probably the worst team in the league right now, but they have a pretty decent shot at getting their first win of the season this week, for three reasons. For one, they’re coming off of their bye week. Bye weeks have proven very valuable for winless teams in the past. Since 1989, 19 teams have gone into their bye week with a record of 0-5 or worse. Of those 19 teams, 11 have won their first game off of the bye week and 16 of them have covered against the spread, 16-2-1 ATS.

The second reason why the Browns have a shot this week is the return of Robert Griffin. Griffin has proven to be very frail throughout his career, but he’s undoubtedly the most talented quarterback on the roster and he spent the whole off-season as the starter. I have no idea if he’s 100% in his first week off the injury, but his return should be valuable for this team, as they’ve played 4 other quarterbacks in his absence. The third reason is the Bengals aren’t a very imposing opponent without wide receiver AJ Green and running back Giovani Bernard, both of whom are out with injury.

The Bengals got a big home win last week against the Eagles, but the Eagles were missing their top-2 skill position players and have not played well at all offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson with a suspension. The Bengals also were in a great spot last week, as they had this upcoming “easy” game on the schedule, but this week they’re in a very tough spot with a home clash against the Pittsburgh Steelers on deck. Road favorites are 51-71 ATS since 2002 before being home underdogs. The Bengals’ 18 point win over the Eagles last week shifted this line from 3.5 on the early line last week all the way to 6, so I like the Browns’ chances of at least keeping this game close and covering the spread, even if they don’t win their first game of the season. The money line isn’t a bad bet either this week.

Cleveland Browns 24 Cincinnati Bengals 23 Upset Pick +210

Pick against the spread: Cleveland +6

Confidence: High

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Philadelphia Eagles at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 13 NFL Pick

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)

Before the season started, I had the Bengals on my list of teams that I thought would disappoint. They won 12 games last season and were 10-2 before losing quarterback Andy Dalton for the season with injury, but outside of Dalton they barely had an injuries last season, something that usually doesn’t happen two years in a row. They also lost of number of players in free agency, including cornerback Leon Hall, safety Reggie Nelson, and wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.

Things have been even worse than I expected though. Dalton has stayed healthy, but the Bengals haven’t stayed nearly as healthy as last season around him on either side of the ball. A couple weeks ago, their season went from bad to worse when they lost wide receiver AJ Green for an extended period of time with a slight hamstring tear and running back Giovani Bernard for the season with a torn ACL. Both injuries came in a close home loss to the Bills and then the following week they suffered a close road loss in Baltimore, dropping them to 3-7-1.

Now I actually think the Bengals are underrated. Many of their losses have been close, with their last 3 coming by a combined 10 points. Dalton might not have Bernard or Green, but Tyler Eifert is healthy, which they didn’t have earlier in the season. He still has a strong offensive line in front of him and didn’t play badly against a tough Baltimore defense last week. The Bengals also have a decent defense. On the season, they rank 16th in first down rate differential, not terrible and actually one spot above the Eagles.

The Bengals aren’t as good as that suggests without Bernard and Green, but the Eagles aren’t healthy either, missing running back Ryan Mathews and possibly wide receiver Jordan Matthews with injury. They also haven’t been the same offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson to suspension. Despite that, the Eagles are favored by 1.5 here in Cincinnati, because the Bengals are an underrated team. The Bengals are also in a much better spot, as they go to Cleveland next week, while the Eagles host the Redskins in a key divisional matchup. The Eagles could definitely overlook a 3-7-1 non-conference opponent, while the Bengals figure to be very focused with the worst team in the league on deck. Home underdogs are 79-44 ATS before being road favorites since 2002. I like the Bengals a good amount this week.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +1.5

Confidence: Medium

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Cincinnati Bengals at Baltimore Ravens: 2016 Week 12 NFL Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (3-6-1) at Baltimore Ravens (5-5)

Already in the middle of a down year, the Bengals suffered two major injuries last week, as running back Giovani Bernard went down for the season with a torn ACL and #1 wide receiver AJ Green went down for an extended period of time with a strained hamstring. In addition, the Bengals will also be without starting safety Shawn Williams this week with injury. On the other side, the Ravens have gotten healthier in recent weeks, as the guys like Marshal Yanda, Steve Smith, CJ Mosley, Terrell Suggs, and Elvis Dumervil, who missed time earlier this year, are all healthy now. They are now without top cornerback Jimmy Smith, but, all in all, they’re healthier now than they’ve been for most of the season. All that being said, I don’t have a strong opinion either way. This line, at -4 in favor of the hometown Baltimore Ravens, is pretty reasonable. I’m taking the Ravens, but it’s hard to be confident in them as 4 point favorites because I don’t know just how bad the Bengals will be without Green and Bernard.

Baltimore Ravens 22 Cincinnati Bengals 17

Pick against the spread: Baltimore -4

Confidence: None

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Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals: 2016 Week 11 NFL Pick

Buffalo Bills (4-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-5-1)

This line has shifted from 4.5 in favor of the Bengals on the early line last week to 3 in the past week, a huge shift considering about 3 in 10 games are decided by 4 points or fewer and about 1 in 6 games are decided by exactly a field goal. Typically, I like to fade significant week-to-week line movements because they tend to be overreactions to a single week, but we’re not really getting line value with the Bengals at 3 either. I have these two teams more or less even. In fact, they’re just one spot apart in terms of first down rate differential, Cincinnati entering in 20th and Buffalo entering in 21st. This line suggests these two teams are even, so this line is exactly where it should be. Neither side is really in a better spot than the other one either. I’m taking the Bengals because the public is on Buffalo and the public always loses money in the long run, but this is a pure public fade and a pick ‘em pool pick only. I wouldn’t touch this game. A push seems likely.

Cincinnati Bengals 23 Buffalo Bills 20

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -3

Confidence: None

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