Cincinnati Bengals (5-0 SU, 4-0-1 ATS) vs. Buffalo Bills (3-2 SU, 3-2 ATS)
NFL Week 6
Date/Time: Sunday, October 18, 2015, 1 pm EST
Where: Ralph Wilson Stadium, Buffalo, N.Y.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 705
by Badger, NFL Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN -3.5/BUF +3.5
Over/Under Total: 45
Out of the five teams still undefeated after five weeks of NFL action its probably the Cincinnati Bengals that are the most surprising of the five, but the Bengals will face a serious challenge this Sunday when they travel to Ralph Wilson Stadium to take on the Buffalo Bills in an AFC battle on CBS.
The Bengals have been playing some seriously solid football thus far, and their early season success was punctuated with last Sunday stunning come from behind victory of the Seattle Seahawks, 27-24, in overtime. Cincinnati scored 17 points in the fourth quarter to rally to tie the game on last-second field goal by Mike Nugent before winning after multiple punts in OT on another Nugent field goal that doinked off the upright before going through.
Buffalo enters Sundays game also fresh off of a comeback victory, erasing a 10-point deficit against the Tennessee Titans on the road last week to walk away winners by the slimmest of margins, 14-13. The Bills found a way to win despite not having their top two running backs and a starting wideout, essentially jumping on quarterback Tyrod Taylors shoulders as Taylor threw for a score, ran for a score and converted a crucial 3rd-and-23 with a 24 yard scramble to set up the go-ahead score.
What should add intrigue into this game on Sunday is all of the line movement on the point spread. The game originally opened with the Bills as a 1-point favorite at home, but with short-memoried bettors fresh off of watching the Bengals rally to beat the Seahawks, bettors flocked to the window and pounded the Bengals so much that the line flipped sides and the Bengals were listed as 1-point favorites. By mid-day on Monday the steam was so heavy on Cincinnati that the line has continued to move as high as Bengals minus -2.5 at multiple sportsbooks on the Web.
The over/under total opened at 45 and hasnt seen nearly as much line movement, moving up or down the hook or not moving at all yet at most sportsbooks.
The Bengals offense is hitting its peak right now because of the play of quarterback Andy Dalton. With Dalton completing 68 percent of his passes and taking care of the football (11 TDs, 2 INT) hes off to his best season ever and currently has his highest QB rating in his career at 115.6 (has never finished above 100 previously). With Dalton having his best year, and a good running game with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard (124 ypg 10th in NFL) setting up play action to A.J. Green and Tyler Eifert the Bengals are a tough matchup for any defense. But if theres a defense up to the task, it Buffalo and new coach Rex Ryan. The Bills just dont give up yards on the ground (82 ypg 3rd) and putting teams into second- and third-and-long situations all game is what the Bills have been successful at thus far in 2015.
Buffalos offense will likely have a tough time against the Cincinnati defense, with only the possible return of rookie Karlos Williams from the concussion protocol as their only reinforcements on the horizon. LeShon McCoy is still at least a month away, and Sammy Watkins is listed as questionable but with his health history questionable doesnt mean much. Taylor will not be able to beat the Bengals defense on his own, especially since the Bengals have been a bend but dont break style in the early season giving up yards (371 ypg 21st) but getting stiff in the red zone (only 20.2 ppg 10th).
If youre looking for history to be your betting guide, good luck because theres really not much to go on looking at the betting trends from the past. Cincinnati is only 2-3 ATS as a road favorite the past three seasons, whereas Buffalo is 2-0 ATS as a home dog the past three seasons and 15-9 ATS as a dog in general, so playing against the line move presents some good value in this game.
***Injury update October 14 ***
Late on Tuesday several news outlets released the news that Taylor will NOT be playing in the game on Sunday due to knee and ankle injuries sustained in the Tennessee game last Sunday. Although Buffalo officials havent confirmed it yet, it looks like E.J. Manuel will be starting at QB for the Bills in this game.
So far the line has only moved up another point in the direction of Cincinnati, up to Bengals minus -3.5 at most sportsbooks. Meanwhile, the total has dropped a few points down to as low as 42 at several books.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: Now that the news has broke that Manuel is replacing Taylor at QB on Sunday, my pick has changed as well. Originally I was taking the side of Buffalo, and I still really like them as home dogs in this spot. But with a backup QB and a depleted and banged up running back and receiving crew, I just dont think the Bills will have enough offense to compete for a full 60 minutes. Id recommend walking away entirely from this game on the card for Sunday, but if I had to make a play Id take the under at as high of a number as you can find still.
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