Videos by OutKick
Now is the time to pounce on the Cincinnati Bengals (10-4). As of Wednesday afternoon, the Bengals went from -3.5 to -3 for a road game vs. the New England Patriots (7-7) at Gillette Stadium Saturday in Week 16.
If the weather forecast for New England this weekend pans out, scoring in Bengals-Patriots could be suppressed, and that -3.5 could bite us in the butt.
That said, I’d play Cincy all the way up to -4 because I tried to reverse-engineer the line movement in this game and can’t explain it.
Sure, New England has been a profitable home ‘dog historically and the Patriots have the coaching edge. While the Bengals got dumb-lucky to beat the Tampa Bay Buccaneers 34-23 last week.
And typically you want to back teams coming off of embarrassing losses. In case you’ve been living under a rock this week, here is how the Patriots lost to the Raiders in Week 15:
Maybe professionals are trying to make the Bengals cheaper before hammering them later on. But, for me, the line movement and these narratives don’t supersede the fact that the Cincy is a far better team than New England.
Bengals QB, and NFL MVP candidate, Joe Burrow has Cincy playing its best football as the playoffs get closer and the Patriots are trending down.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Bengals (-155), Patriots (+135)
- Against the spread (ATS): BENGALS -3 (-110), Patriots +3 (-110)
- Total — 41.5 — O: -105, U: -115
New England beats who it’s supposed and gets smacked by superior teams
That “Patriot Way” bullshit is over now that Tom Brady isn’t the QB. New England is 7-16 ATS vs. teams with a winning record since their first season without Brady in 2020.
This season, when New England allows 20 points or more this season, the Patriots are 0-7 straight up (SU) and 1-6 ATS. If New England allows less than 20 points, the Patriots are 7-0 SU and ATS.
They’ve beaten Lions QB Jared Goff, Jets QB Zach Wilson twice, Browns backup QB Jacoby Brissett, Steelers backup QB Mitch Trubisky, Colts now-third-string QB Sam Ehlinger, and Cardinals backup QB Colt McCoy.
Cincy’s case by the numbers
New England’s box-score stats were always misleading during the height of its prime because Belichick and Brady would just find ways to win.
However, I’d argue the Patriots’ stats in 2022 are misleading for other reasons. As previously discussed, New England beats up bad teams.
The Patriots actually have slightly better net yards per play (nYPP) than the Bengals (+0.5 vs. +0.3 nYPP). New England is seventh in net expected points added per play (EPA/play) right behind Cincy, which is sixth.
However, the Bengals are in another tier than the Patriots. Their net EPA/play is more than double New England’s. The Bengals excel in high-leverage situations whereas the Patriots are mediocre.
Cincy is fourth in both third-down conversion and red zone scoring rates. New England is 29th in third-down conversion rate and 32nd in red zone scoring.
More importantly, the Bengals have covered 19 of their last 22 games dating back to last season, including the playoffs. Cincy is 11-3-1 ATS vs. winning teams during that stretch.
Bengals-Patriots’ situational analysis
New England’s loss to the Raiders significantly reduced its chances to make the postseason. In fact, the Patriots are on the outside looking into the AFC playoffs.
Many will argue this is a bounce-back plus back-against-the-wall plus must-win spot for New England. But, I think the Patriots are going to roll over this weekend.
Also, the Bengals won in the best possible way last week. Cincy covered as 3.5-point road favorites in Week 15 at the Buccaneers but played like shit in the first half.
The Bengals started the second half down 17-0 and needed several Bucs’ miscues in order to steal that game. While it was a flukey win, Cincy’s coaching staff has a lot of mistakes to criticize the players for.
Plus Cincy’s defense should be getting healthier for this matchup. Bengals’ best pass rusher Trey Hendrickson and slot CB Mike Hilton are practicing after missing last week’s game with injuries.
In fact, Cincy’s sneaky elite defense is part of the reason I’m …
Fading Patriots QB Mac Jones
Instead of being normal and hiring respectable assistants, Belichick brought back recently fired head coaches Joe Judge and Matt Patricia this offseason and gave them unclear roles.
New England’s poor coaching has led to Jones’ year-over-year regression. He was terrible last week vs. the Raiders. Jones completed 13-of-31 passes for 112 yards (3.6 yards per pass average) with 0 TD, 0 INT, and a 12.2 QBR.
His -19.6% completion percentage over expectation was the second-worst in the NFL in Week 15 ahead of only Cardinals third-string QB Trace McSorley who filled in for McCoy who was injured mid-game.
What makes Jones’ performance even worse is the Raiders’ defense is 30th in opponent’s completion rate and 32nd in opponent’s QB Rating. That’s a far cry from a Cincy pass defense that ranks second in opponent’s completion rate and sixth in opponent’s QB Rating.
Finally, Jones has been terrible in December, i.e. in the winter and when games mean a little more. Jones is 2-4 SU in Dec. since last year with a 55.5% completion rate, a 3/5 TD/INT ratio, and a 65.4 QB Rating.
BET: Bengals -3 (-110) at DraftKings Sportsbook, up to -4
FOLLOW GEOFF ON TWITTER: @Geoffery_Clark
Listen to the ‘OutKick Bets with Geoff Clark’ podcast HERE.
PointsBet Sportsbook users can make their first bets risk-free up to $2,000. If the bet loses, PointsBet will refund you in site credit. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.
First-time DraftKings users can get up to a $1,000 deposit bonus and receive a 20% first deposit match up to $1,000 when they sign up. New users can lock in this offer NOW by clicking this link.