New York Jets VS Cincinnati Bengals: AFC Wildcard Playoff Game Pick

I got this game when the Bengals were favored by just a single point, a little while after they opened at -4, and before the line moved by up to -3. Right now, you can find the line anywhere between the Bengals being favored by 2-3 points. And as the line has moved around with haste and ferocity, the public percentage has moved around as well. Right now, the Bengals are seeing about 61% of the bets, but the early money was on New York. Not that any of that stuff matters.

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I wonder what this line would have been had the Bengals sat their starters for Sunday’s entire game. Even if the Jets had won easily, in that case, I think the Bengals would have been favored by a couple more points – but maybe not. Either way, it’s hard for me to put too much weight into one single game. The Bengals have played better with Cedric Benson running the ball. His strength and aggressiveness is a huge part of Cincinnati’s offense, and he’ll be back on the field this week, that should help the Bengals get things going. And while Cincinnati definitely got pushed around by the Jets solid run-defense, it’s hard for me to foresee that happening again this Sunday.

Both these teams are good, both are tough, and both bring it on both sides of the ball. The difference in these two teams is at quarterback where the Bengals have Carson Palmer and the Jets have a rookie, Mark Sanchez. That give the Bengals the advantage in my book. When you add that to the reality that Cincinnati played their worst football of the season last week in New York, and the Jets played one of their best all around games all season long, I think you get a Bengals victory at home. Extremes like that often have a way of evening themselves out. It’s tough to beat up a good football team twice in one year, let alone twice in one week.

New York Jets @ Cincinnati Bengals (-1)

Cincinnati Bengals vs New York Jets Sunday Night Football

The Jets had some awesome luck going against the Colts in Week 16 (undefeated yet didn’t care enough about that to actually play their starters, basically feeding the Jets a must-have win) and now they get another team “resting up” for the playoffs when Cincinnati comes to town with absolutely nothing to gain from a win and nothing to lose from a loss. Lucky. And you know what they say, it’s better to be lucky than good.

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And while I fully expect the Jets to win and all of a sudden take over the spot of “worst playoff team” I think it’s going to be close than double digits. The Bengals still have a solid offensive line and a bunch of young studs defensively. They can’t sit everyone, and you can bet those young guys will make some plays. Ten points is a lot for New York to outscore a good defensive team by, even if the starters play only a handful of snaps.

And the Bengals can run it. They will have Larry Johnson ready to take over for Cedric Benson when CB is ready to get his rest on, and that’s a pretty nice option to have for Bengals backers. This game is no guarantee, but I like it to be close – as Mark Sanchez will have a lot of pressure on his to succeed in this one, the playoffs rest on the rookie’s arm – no big deal, right?

Cincinnati Bengals (+10.5) @ New York Jets

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals NFL Week 16 Picks

Kansas City Chiefs vs Cincinnati Bengals NFL Week 16 Picks: I wrote in my Just Picks Newsletter than “I’d Feel like a moron if I didn’t pick the Chiefs in Cincinnati.” And that’s almost exclusively because the Bengals have played close with just about everyone. There is no doubt in my mind that Cincinnati could and probably should beat the Chiefs by 21 points or more, but the Bengals just haven’t played football like that. They are in it to win games, and if the best way to do that is run the ball a ton and get the game over as fast as possible, that’s exactly what they are going to do. I should know, I’ve been picking the Bengals to cover big spreads, and they’ve been killing me because of it.

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The Bengals are 9-5 SU, 7-7 ATS, but 0-4 ATS when favored by 6 points or more so far this season. They’ve beaten just one single team by double digits this season, the Chicago Bears in a rare offensively explosion game for the Bengals. One. In 9 wins, they’ve had one double digit victory – that’s almost crazy speak. But like I said, they are in it to win it and how pretty the score looks at games’ end is of no consequence to the Bengals.

The Chiefs are bad, and even worse on the road, and they only close game they’ve played over the last 4 weeks is their 34-41 loss to Cleveland at home last week, but listen, I’m not picking the Chiefs because of the Chiefs, I’m taking them because of the Bengals, the best ugly winner in football.

Kansas City Chiefs (+14) @ Cincinnati Bengals

Cincinnati Bengals vs San Diego Chargers Pick & Preview

Cincinnati Bengals vs San Diego Chargers Pick & Preview: I don’t know why this line is the way it is. Giving the Bengals seven points in San Diego is basically saying the Chargers are 4 points better than Cincinnati – and that I can’t buy into. I may be a little bit cynical, but the amazing 8-win stretch that San Diego is currently rocking is just another reason for me to go with my gut and take the Bengals. Cincinnati is coming off their worst performance of the year (if you throw out that loss to the freaking Oakland Raiders) while the Chargers are coming off a game where they played so-so and beat the Cowboys. The Bengals won’t dump in their pants two weeks in a row, and the Chargers are bound to struggle a bit more really soon.

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San Diego is 10-3, yes, but it’s not like the Bengals are chunky soup – they are 9-4 and have beaten up on some pretty good teams this season. They can run, pass, play damn good defense, and have a team full of emotion after the death of their teammate earlier in the week. I’m not playing the “emotional” card, I’m going with my original feeling about the game, but I definitely believe that the majority of athletes play better when they are trying to prove something, right a wrong, fight for something – and there’s a chance the current situation in Cincinnati helps the Bengals play better this week.

The bottom line is you don’t give a good team a touchdown, and that’s exactly what’s happening here. I know the Bengals played bad last week, but a team playing bad last week is a terrible reason to go against them. Upset city, folk, the 7 points are even that much nicer.

Cincinnati Bengals (+7) @ San Diego Chargers:

Cincinnati Bengals vs Minnesota Vikings Free Football Pick

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I know the Vikings have been one of the NFL’s best teams so far this season, shoot, they’ve only lost twice, but I still think they get a little more credit than they deserve. First of all, I think I’d take the Bengals as a 7-point dog against any team in the NFL, playing anywhere in the league. 2nd, the Vikings have had a pretty tough time running the ball efficiently against good run defenses, see San Francisco, Green Bay, Baltimore, Pittsburgh, and AArizona. In fact, the only two teams to beat the Vikings have brought pretty tough rush defenses to the table (Arizona last week, and Pittsburgh 7 weeks ago). The Bengals rarely get out-rushed, and rarely allow many easy yards on the ground. It will be interesting to see how the Vikings deal with that.

The Bengals have one of the league’s best defenses. They bring good pressure, have a solid secondary that makes big plays, and allows just 15.6 points per game, one of the best marks in the NFL. In a game that will likely be a low scoring affair, a touchdown underdog is a nice thing to get your hands on. The Bengals have had some tough injuries, but they’ve dealt with them well, and come into Sunday’s game with the Vikings winning 5 of their last 6.

Thats right, the Bengals are no joke either. At 9-3, they are one of the best teams in the NFL. I think they get even less credit than Denver, which is pretty amazing considering they have Mr. Ochocinco and his media circus running the gong show. I like the big dog here.

Cincinnati Bengals (+7) @ Minnesota Vikings

Detroit Lions vs Cincinnati Bengals Free Pick & Preview

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Detroit Lions vs Cincinnati Bengals Free Pick & Preview: There’s not much to like about the Bengals as a big favorite. I went against them last week because of their close game, slow it down, take no risk game schemes, and I benefited from that. The Cleveland Browns couldn’t do anything against the Bengals offense, yet the game stayed within 10, and I easily covered the AFC North battle. But that doesn’t mean I’m going against the Bengals again, I mean, every game is a different situation right?

The Lions just don’t get it. Instead of trying to run there way to a situation where they might be able to win with a lucky drive at the end, they go back and throw the ball like Matthew Stafford is a seasoned pro-bowler. A little note, for those paying any attention, Matt’s just a rookie and a rookie that loves to trust his rocket arm. Even when Brett was “trusting his arm” as a seasoned vet, he was an interception machine. Matthew will make some great throws, throws only a couple people in the league will make, but his chances will also get intercepted and the Bengals defense isn’t one to miss out on those opportunities.

The fact that Cincinnati blew a win against the Raiders because they didn’t come to play, played complacent, tried not to lose, and all that business, makes me think they won’t walk into this one against Detroit like it’s just going to be a cake walk. They will run a lot, but there’s no reason to leave the passing game in the booth – I think Palmer throws a couple touchdowns, and the Bengals cover this one by a touchdown in a blowout.

Detroit Lions @ Cincinnati Bengals (-12.5)

Cleveland Browns vs Cincinnati Bengals Pick & Preview

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Cleveland Browns (+14.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals Pick & Preview: The Cleveland Browns aren’t good. Don’t be tricked by their performance last week against the Lions – their offense isn’t any good either. I’m pretty sure they passed for more touchdowns in that one game against Detroit than they had all season – let me check the stats…. Yep, I was right, Brady Quinn had 4 last time out. He had 1 prior to the game against the Lions. And while completing just 62% of his passes, Derek Anderson had found a receiver in the end-zone two times. So that’s 4 last week and 3 all season – like I said, their offense is just plain bad.

The Browns are bad, sure, but 14+ points worse than a team that has exactly one win by 10 points or more all season long? I like the Bengals, their defense is stout, their offense is smart, and they should be red-hot and fiery after blowing an easy win last week in a league where easy wins rarely present themselves. But this is still a division game, and the Bengals have to beat the Browns to sweep the division for the first time ever. So they’ll be thinking about something.

They are also smart (usually) and spend a lot of time just making sure they win. They play in a lot of low-scoring games, and they do the smart thing almost every time out. The odds just don’t point to the Bengals winning by more than 2 touchdowns – I’ll take the Browns (gross) and all those points (just enough for me)

Cincinnati Bengals vs Oakland Raiders Free Pick & Preview

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Cincinnati Bengals (-9) @ Oakland Raiders Free Pick & Preview: Lets make something clear, in 7 wins this season, the Bengals have won by more than 10 just once. They’ve won by 7 or less 6 times, a field goal three times. They play close games. Even against Cleveland, the Bengals needed overtime to get the job done – and they needed every second of overtime, too. Not only that, but the Bengals are going to be playing without the most consistent piece of their offense, Cedric Benson, as the big Texas bruising tail back is doubtful with his hip injury.

The Raiders have been pathetic, no doubt, but I’m not sure if they’re quite as bad as people are giving them credit for. Sure, their owner is a full blow gong show in and of himself, the coaching situation is pathetic at best, and at quarterback they just benched the guy that had been terrible all season, only to get to another guy that has been equally as terrible in a reserve role. But in their 7 losses, 3 have been single digit losses.

My deal is you can’t relate every team to the new team they are playing now. I know Cincinnati doesn’t do much in terms of winning by big scores, but they can. They will probably have to throw the ball a little more this week, and that makes room for some quick scores. If the Bengals can put up three touchdowns, they cover this spread. I would be stunned if the Raiders put up more than 10 points.

Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers Free NFL Pick

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Cincinnati Bengals (+7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers Free NFL Pick: The Bengals beat the Steelers last time around, it took a touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell from Carson Palmer with about 20 seconds left in the game, but they did win. They were 3.5 point underdogs in their own stadium, so the 7 point spread here means the perception of these two teams hasn’t changed. Vegas still thinks the Steelers are 3-4 points better than the Bengals, you add the 3 points for playing at home – and there you have it, 7 points.

This is an interesting one because while the Steelers are 4-0 while playing in Pittsburgh, the Bengals are 3-0 while playing on the road. Neither team played really well offensively last time out. It was a game dominated by defenses, and Carson Palmer didn’t have very impressive numbers while throwing the ball 37 times, Cedric Benson only ran the ball 16 times, and yet the Bengals won.

Now this is a huge rivalry. Huge. These two teams really hate each other, I’m sure the Bengals have voodoo dolls that resemble Hines Ward’s chubby face with thousands of barbed needles implanted as angrily as possible. There’s no love here. In divisional rivalries, pitting two good teams against each other, I usually expect a split in the season series. And it usually works out that way. That very same thing may happen this time around, but I still think 7 points is too many.

The Road team is 11-4-1 ATS in the last 16 games in this series. The road team has won straight up in 7 of the last 10 contests. Prior to their game earlier this season, the Steelers had won 5 straight against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh plays a lot of close games – I expect nothing less here.

Baltimore Ravens @ Cincinnati Bengals Free NFL Pick

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Baltimore Ravens (-2.5) @ Cincinnati Bengals Free NFL Pick: Last time out the Bengals beat the Ravens in Baltimore, pulling a pretty nice upset both against the spread and straight up. The Bengals have had a week off to relax and ponder how easy it was beating up on the Bears. Palmer tossed 4 touchdown passes and Cedric Benson ran wild against his former team as Cincinnati steamrolled the Bears. The Ravens aren’t coming off a bye, but they are coming off a 30-7 win over the previously undefeated Denver Broncos last week. In that game they seemingly got their pass defense in a good place.

The Ravens have struggled against teams that can really throw it, giving up 436 yards to Phillip Rivers in a close win over the Chargers, and 3 touchdown passes by Brett Favre in a close loss to Minnesota. Carson Palmer also diced them up for 270+ yards last time out.But like I said, they looked good against the pass last week.

But here’s the deal, and it’s a situation I take very much to heart when picking games over the second half of any given NFL season; Unless there is some sort of extreme mismatch between two good football teams, the chances of a split are pretty good.

I think these two teams are very similar. The Ravens are probably even a little bit better. This game means a lot to the Ravens, sitting at 4-3 and 3rd place in the AFC North, behind the Bengals and Steelers. The Bengals aren’t going to lay down, but I think a lot of the Ravens, and a split with the Bengals looks like a good bet to me.