Buffalo Bills Have More At Stake Tonight Than Cincinnati Bengals

Posted on: January 2, 2023, 01:13h. 

Last updated on: January 2, 2023, 01:15h.

Just win, baby. And then do it again next week.

Pardon the expropriation of Raiders owner Al Davis’s famous quote. But the formula for finishing with the top seed in the AFC is really quite simple for the Buffalo Bills, who are 1 1/2-point favorites tonight in a superb Monday Night Football matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals. A victory tonight and a victory next Sunday against the New England Patriots would mean that every postseason game the Bills play in January will take place outdoors on their home field.

And with the storm of the century last week’s news, we should be able to safely wager that yet another blizzard will not get in the way of the Bills.

For now, though,  the Bengals are the obstacle tonight in Cincinnati, where Joe Burrow and his teammates have gone 5-1 this season, the lone loss coming in Week 1 in overtime against Pittsburgh. So this one is no gimme, which is reflected in the line: Buffalo has been favored by fewer than 3 points only three times this season: Week 1 against the Rams (-2) and Week 6 against Kansas City (-2 1/2), winning and covering both times.

But they are a half-game behind MVP lock Patrick Mahomes and the Kansas City Chiefs heading into tonight’s showdown. A loss would allow Kansas City to clinch the No. 1 seed and the accompanying bye week by defeating the Las Vegas Raiders next Sunday. The Bengals, meanwhile, can clinch the AFC North next week against the 10-6 Baltimore Ravens. They have an outside chance at No. 1, but need to finish 2-0 and have the Raiders beat the Chiefs.

So Buffalo clearly has more at stake. But the Bengals have a seven-game winning streak and are no pushover.

Storylines For This Epic QB Faceoff

Burrow has the Bengals (11-4) a win or tie away from clinching their second consecutive AFC North title — something they have not done since winning consecutive AFC Central titles in 1981 and ’82. And the third-year quarterback ranked second in the NFL in passing yards (4,260) and TD passes (34) entering Week 17. If he can manage 350 passing yards tonight, he will tie ageless Tom Brady (who had a season-high 432 yards yesterday vs. Carolina) for the spot he held prior to Sunday.

Burrow’s counterpart, Josh Allen, was in the MVP conversation until the Bills lost to the Jets and Vikings in Weeks 9 and 10. He is third in the NFL in TD passes with 32, and if he throws for more than 293 yards tonight, he will be in the top five for total passing yardage. If he throws for 700 or 800 yards tonight, maybe he can squeeze Mahomes just a wee bit:

Two prolific QBs + Two Very Good Defenses

Burrow’s passing yardage over/under is 286 1/2; Allen’s is 260 1/2. For those anticipating an epic aerial encounter tonight, DraftKings has alternate passing yardage lines of +295 for Burrow to throw for 350 yards or more, and +600 for Allen to do the same.

Burrow’s season high is 481, and he is coming off a 375-yard game last week against New England. Allen’s season-high is 424 yards against Pittsburgh in Week 4, and he also reached 400 against Miami in Week 3. If you do not believe each of these guys is going to try to one-up the other, you simply do not understand the competitiveness of professional athletes.

The over/under of 49 1/2 is a big number for most teams, but not these two. Buffalo has had over/unders of 50 or higher six times, going over only once (Nov. 20 against Cleveland), while the Bengals have had over/unders of 50 or more twice, going under both times (a 27-15 victory over Miami on Sept. 29, and a 27-24 win over Kansas City on Dec. 4 when the number was 53.)

But that game’s point total of 51 was less than the combined totals in the Bengals’ games against Atlanta (52), New Orleans (56), Tampa Bay (57), Carolina (63) and Pittsburgh (67). Cincinnati’s defense is ranked 15th in yards allowed per game, but seventh in points allowed (20.4). The Bills are ranked sixth in yards allowed and second in points allowed (17.5), which makes the call on the over/under particularly tricky. Both teams are top 6 in points scored.

DraftKings was seeing 78 % of handle coming in on the over at midday Monday; BetMGM was seeing 80% of handle on the over. Both books were seeing a roughly 50-50 split on spread beats, and action was coming in not only from New York, but also from Ohio after that state began legalized sports wagering yesterday, Jan. 1. The Buckeye State is expected to take in $8 billion in legal sports bets this year, which would make it the fourth-largest sports gambling state behind New York, Illinois, and New Jersey.

What Looks Promising Among Player Prop Wagers

Burrow and Allen are the headliners. But both have supporting casts whose wager numbers should be looked at when considering same-game parlays. In New York, some sportsbooks are tightening the rules on what they allow in same-game parlays.

At DraftKings, for instance, the only same-game parlays available are the ones whose prop bets are set by the book. The lowest SGP odds for tonight are +425 for over 49 1/2, along with Stefon Diggs (10 TDs) and Joe Mixon (6 TDs) to be anytime TD scorers. No other player prop parlays at less that +1000 are available at DK.

PointsBet is more flexible under the same-game parlay tab, and a parlay on Burrow and Allen both over 300 yards passing is priced at +475, and adding on Bills wide receiver Gabe Davis and Bengals receiver Ja’Marr Chase as anytime TD scorers bumps the odds to +9500. Going with Davis and Chase as TD scorers and lowering the passing yardage props to 200 or more for both QBs lowers the odds to +2500.

FanDuel’s software lists the most popular SGP wagers, with Chase and Davis as anytime TD scorers combined with Allen 25-plus rushing yards and Devin Singletary 40-plus rushing yards the most popular at +1063.

Just never forget something that’s true every night: There will be a great game to watch in some sport somewhere. And it is always a winning wager to put your feet up, open a tasty beverage, and enjoy it. That one hits very single night.