Money Monday

January 2, 2023

Three bets worth making when the Bengals host the Bills

© David Butler II-USA TODAY Sports

Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals

Paycor Stadium – Cincinnati, OH

8:30 PM ET

SuperBook Line: Buffalo -1.0

It doesn’t get much better than this. The last game of the second-to-last week of the NFL season features two of the top teams in the AFC in a battle with huge playoff implications. The Bills have to win to remain in the No. 1 spot in the conference, a position that comes with a first-round bye. The Bengals, however, can make things very interesting with a win, giving themselves a shot at the top spot, while also putting a potential rematch in the postseason in Cincinnati instead of Buffalo.


Bengals +1.0

This is the best “Monday Night Football” game of the season, and it’s not close. Both teams are red hot, as Cincinnati has won seven games in a row, while Buffalo has won its last six. The 11-4 Bengals and 12-3 Bills both have their eyes on the No. 1 seed in the AFC, as both beat the Chiefs earlier this season. Buffalo controls its own destiny for the top slot, while Cincy would need a little help. Regardless, this is the matchup of the AFC title game that was oh-so-close to happening a season ago, and we may very well get this year. It’s two of the best teams in the NFL, and it’s not hard to envision either squad hoisting the Lombardi Trophy in a little more than a month. While it’s a tough game to pick because both teams are so good, the Bengals haven’t lost at home since Week 1; that was a fluky OT defeat to the Steelers. Since then, they’ve gone 5-0 at Paycor Stadium, with four of those wins coming by double digits. In fact, the margin of victory has been an impressive 13.4 points per contest. Meanwhile, the Bills are a solid 6-2 on the road, but they are beatable. Both the Dolphins and Jets proved that earlier this year. In a coin-flip-type game, the edge goes to the team with the raucous crowd behind them. 


OVER 49.5

When you have two good offenses, the over is the way to go. Each team has a good defense, and the Bills may even be great, but Joe Burrow and Josh Allen score points — that’s just what they do. Cincinnati has gone over 49.5 points in six of their last 10 games. Buffalo has eclipsed the total in four of their last seven games. And there’s a reason Burrow and Allen have some of the best odds to win NFL MVP, even though the award will likely go to Patrick Mahomes. Burrow is second in the league in yards thrown; Allen is sixth. Burrow is second with 34 touchdowns tossed; Allen is third with 32. Allen has the second-best QBR; Burrow is eighth. This is all a way of saying they’re just too good to not each score at least 25 points, which will see the over hit. Cincinnati takes a thriller, and perhaps the game of the NFL regular season, 31-28.


Over 68.5 receiving yards for Tee Higgins

The total receiving yards for Ja’Marr Chase is set at 82.5 yards, while Tee Higgins checks in at 68.5 yards. While no one would dispute Ja’Marr Chase is the Bengals No. 1 receiver, Higgins has been really impressive over the last six weeks, particularly as Chase missed time with an injury. And while Chase is a great player, you can’t ignore the chemistry Higgins has built up with Burrow, both with and without his running mate on the field. Last week in New England, Higgins hauled in eight catches for 128 yards and a touchdown. He’s gone over 100 yards receiving in three of Cincinnati’s last five games and four times this season. With Buffalo paying a ton of attention to Chase, Higgins should thrive. And considering his total is 14 yards fewer than Chase, he’s the play. Higgins has been hot lately and that will continue in an offensive shootout on a big stage.

Early Lines

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Steve Quinne’s first take on Week 18

Detroit Lions at Green Bay Packers

Lambeau Field – Green Bay, WI

TBD (Sun)

SuperBook Line: Green Bay -4.5

The Packers and Lions both enter this game at 8-8, very much alive in the NFC playoff race. Green Bay has won four in a row to dig out of a 4-8 hole, while Detroit has been victorious in four of its last five to get back into the race. It’s hard not to lean toward Aaron Rodgers, at home, with the postseason on the line. Jared Goff and company are a great story, but the perennial playoff team gets it done in a pressure spot.


Tennessee Titans at Jacksonville Jaguars

TIAA Bank Field – Jacksonville, FL

8:15 PM ET (Sat)

SuperBook Line: Jacksonville -6.0

The Titans haven’t won since the week before Thanksgiving. Tennessee beat Green Bay on Nov. 17 to move to 7-3, but have now dropped six-straight games. In the meantime, the Jaguars have been red-hot, winning five of their last six to get to 8-8. It’s two teams heading in opposite directions, with the AFC South title on the line. The winner goes to the playoffs. The loser goes home. Look for the trends to continue, as Jacksonville looks like the more viable postseason team.


Baltimore Ravens at Cincinnati Bengals

Paycor Stadium – Cincinnati, OH

TBD (Sun)

SuperBook Line: Cincinnati -7.0

If the Bengals lose to the Bills tonight, this game will be for the AFC North title. If Cincinnati wins tonight, both teams will still be jockeying for playoff positioning. Who Dey will be in contention for the No. 1 overall spot, while Baltimore will be keeping an eye on the Broncos-Chargers game to see what Los Angeles does. Either way, it’s an important game, which means it’ll be a laugher. The Bengals are a juggernaut; the Ravens are not. Cincy wins big at home in the finale.