After possibly losing Andy Dalton for the rest of the season, the Cincinnati Bengals are no longer the hot NFL pick coming out of the AFC North for Super Bowl 50.
Jason's 2015 record as of Dec. 15: 48-45-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 25-31 Total
Here were are in the middle of the holiday rush, and the people of Cincinnati face a devastating shortage of ginger. Andy Dalton could miss the rest of the regular season, if not longer, after breaking his right thumb on the first series of Sunday's game against the Pittsburgh Steelers. Dalton will be re-evaluated on a week-to-week basis after it was determined he wouldn't require surgery.
This is an incredibly important development with just three games left to go until the playoffs. The Bengals (10-3 SU, 10-2-1 ATS) were in the catbird seat in the AFC North, and in the entire conference, before losing 33-20 to Pittsburgh as 1-point home faves. Cincinnati still holds the No. 2 seed, while the Steelers (8-5 SU, 8-4-1 ATS) remain on the outside of the Wild Card picture. But guess which team has the shorter NFL odds to win Super Bowl 50?
The Wild North
Ah, good, you clicked on the link. Yes, the Steelers (+1100 at 5Dimes) are now considered strong Super Bowl contenders after winning three of their last four games SU and ATS since Ben Roethlisberger returned to active duty. The Bengals (+2000) will be going with A.J. McCarron at quarterback until Dalton is declared healthy – if that day arrives.
Looks like we may have just been handed an early non-denominational holiday present. Although the Bengals have yet to clinch a playoff spot, they are two games up on the Steelers, as well as the two 8-5 teams who currently hold down Wild Card spots in the AFC: the Kansas City Chiefs (+2000) and our heroes, the New York Jets (+9000). Cincinnati plays two losing teams in its last three games, starting this Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS) on the road against the San Francisco 49ers. How bad can things be?
Bad enough. The Bengals “opened” at –7 on the advance line in Vegas before Dalton's injury, then were given a hard opening at –4 once McCarron was named the starter for Sunday's game. People still like the Bengals for their Week 15 NFL picks, though; over 77 percent of the action is on Cincinnati at press time, moving the spread to –4.5.
As for the Steelers, they also face two losing teams in their last three games, but first they have to play the Denver Broncos on Sunday (4:25 p.m. ET, CBS). Losing to the Broncos at home could eliminate Pittsburgh from the playoffs, depending on what else happens across the AFC. The Steelers are 6-point home faves against Denver as we go to press with a slim 52-percent majority of bettors on Big Ben's boys. Get ready for mayhem, and may the prolate spheroid be with you.