Buffalo Bills at Cincinnati Bengals (+3)
Yikes. I'm really eschewing my advice on page one about taking road favorites and laying points. I'm sure that's going to come back and bite me, especially considering I'm picking America's new favorite team in this game.
Yes, after an awesome 3-0 start with tough games against the Raiders and Patriots, the Buffalo Bills are undefeated through three weeks. I can't say I'm shocked, since I was on the Ryan Fitzpatrick bandwagon last season, but I'm really surprised by the success of the offense. The Bills have rallied back in two straight games to win, but what's been really amazing is that the team has a 78% success rate in the red zone this season, third behind the Giants and Raiders. The Bills can score when they need to, and that's been an awesome development to witness.
On the other hand, I feel as though I almost got duped into believing in the Bengals after Week 1. Remember, the team was able to beat the Browns in Cleveland with a rookie quarterback. With Cam Newton outperforming that week as well, it made me start to wonder whether rookie quarterbacks can indeed win often in the NFL. Since then, the wheels have come off the Bengals bandwagon. In Week 2, Cincinnati lost its second straight road game by only two points, although I still cannot figure out for the life of me why Denver won that game. In Week 3, Dalton and the Bengals offense had three turnovers in a miserable game at home against the 49ers.
In other words, this looks like it could be one of those classic "trap" games. A 3-0 team that has an outstanding offense traveling on the road against a team coming off a home loss where they had trouble throwing and running. What could possibly go wrong?
, the Las Vegas Hilton opened with the Bills as 3-point favorites late Sunday and that line hasn't moved. However, you have to lay down $120 (rather than $110) to win $100. On the other hand, taking Cincinnati and the points has gone from -110 to +100, meaning you get even odds for taking the underdog at home. In other words, Vegas oddsmakers really don't to move off of the key number of 3 points, so instead they're enticing bettors into picking Cincinnati because of the lower amount you have to put up to win.
"We've got Buffalo winning by 7 points," says PredictionMachine.com's Bessire. "Cincinnati has a good defense, and that's definitely notable. That said, Buffalo's defense will be better, especially against the pass. The Bills have thrived on that pass defense for three seasons now. The reason we like Buffalo isn't because Fitzpatrick will throw for touchdowns; facing Dalton and Cedric Benson is easier than facing that Patriots offense."
Pregame.com's Leonard notes that the look-ahead lines at one Vegas book had this game as Buffalo -1.5, but he couldn't bring himself to play Cincinnati as the underdog. "After last week's game, the line has gone up 1.5 points, but I still can't play Cincinnati," he says. "I just don't think the Bengals are that good. That said, I don't want to lay more than a field goal. The letdown spot is huge after a huge, emotional game."
The Pick: Bills -3
. I feel like a square picking this game, but I feel like the worst-case scenario is a push and I get my money back. The public is really going to jump on Buffalo, and yet the line is still only 3 points at -120. My views are only for entertainment, so keep that in mind when I say I would like to hop on Bills -3 before this line moves up by a half-point as we get closer to the weekend. Buffalo knows how important it will be to get a 4-0 start considering the tough division they're in. Yes, they're coming off a high after beating New England for the first time in more than a dozen tries, but I think they can win and cover this game.
-- Written by Robert Holmes in Boston
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