Expert's Final Thoughts On Monday Night Football Bengals vs. Broncos

Kevin Stott

Monday, December 28, 2015 11:33 AM GMT

What are the best approaches for NFL picks from the basic and popular Spread (ATS), Moneyline (M/L) & Totals for the massive AFC clash between Bengals & Broncos?

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Pedicted Final Score: Denver Broncos 23 - Cincinnati Bengals 20
Monday Night Football Free Picks: Over 39 (Pinnacle), 1st Quarter Under 7½ -155 (PaddyPower), Broncos Money Line -179 (Bet365)

 

Father Time has a stranglehold on Peyton Manning and Florence Nightingale has her hands on Carson Palmer, so we get Cincinnati Bengals backup AJ McCarron and Broncos old-backup new-starter-but-nobody-wants-to-commit-to-it Brock Osweiler starting for the hosts in this huge AFC showdown on Monday Night Football from Sports Authority Field in potentially really cold Denver, where the current Weather Forecast seems to offer some help for the Home team along with the chance to face a backup in the NFL Week 16 finale and game the Broncos really need to win. With all of the pressure on, can Denver’s Defense rise to the occasion or will the Bengals Offense find a way to score no matter what? Let’s get back in the lab and see if there is any simple logic here or if some of the fringe markets may offer up some better value on possibly a better pick or two.

 

Odds Overview
Cincinnati Bengals at Denver Broncos [Tuesday 01:30] (ESPN, WatchESPN, Directv 206 (US), Sky Sports 1/HD (UK), 8:30 p.m. EST/5:30 p.m. PST): Brock Osweiler and the Broncos (10-4 SU, 8-4-2 ATS) play host to AJ McCarron and the Cincinnati Bengals (11-3 SU, 10-2-2 ATS) at Sports Authority Field in Denver (Partly Cloudy, Winds W 5 mph, 10°) on Monday night in this massive AFC showdown and game which has huge Postseason positioning and maybe even qualification implications. Current Odds (Saturday night) have the host Broncos in a 3- to (-125, William Hill) to 3½-point range (Bovada) as the home favorites with the Total (Points) in this game now ranging from a low 39 (Pinnacle) to 40 due to the Broncos Defense, expected Freezing Weather and starting QBs. In the Money Line (Winner) marketplace, the Broncos are priced at -179 with WR AJ Green and visiting Bengals lined at +160 on the takeback (bet365) and this is very well a game this team can win, starting QB or not. The Denver Broncos Total Team Points is at 21½ (Ladbrokes) while the Cincinnati Bengals Total Team Points is at 18 (Ladbrokes) while the First Half Total is 20u -115 (Over -105, Ladbrokes). The Advanced Line (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook) out last week for this game installed New Orleans as 4½-point favorites for this matchup while the SuperBook also opened this one at Broncos -4½ in its renowned NFL Games of the Year. This was always going to be a big game in the AFC.

 

Last 10 Final Scores Denver Broncos vs. Cincinnati Bengals Lifetime Series
2014—@ Bengals 37 Broncos 28 (DEN -3½) Total Points Scored: 65 (Over, 47)
2012—Broncos 31 @ Bengals 23 (DEN -5½) Total Points Scored: 54 (Over, 47½)
2011—@ Broncos 24 Bengals 22 (DEN -3) Total Points Scored: 46 (Over, 40½)
2009—Broncos 12 @ Bengals 7 (CIN -5) Total Points Scored: 19 (Under, 41½)
2006—@Broncos 24 Bengals 23 (DEN -3) Points: 47 (Over, 44½) (Invesco Field at Mile High)
2004—@ Bengals 23 Broncos 10 (DEN -6½) Points: 33 (Under, 43½)
2003—Broncos 30 @ Bengals 10 (DEN -6) Total Points Scored: 40 (Under, 43½)
2000—@ Bengals 31 Broncos 21 (DEN -10) Points: 52 (Over, 42½)
1998—Broncos 33 @ Bengals 26 (DEN -11½) Points: 59 (Over, 49) (Cinergy Field)
1997—@ Broncos 38 Bengals 20 (DEN -11) Points: 50 (Over, 45) (Mile High Stadium)

 

Thoughts On The Total
Lowest Total in Market: 39 (Pinnacle, CG Technology)
Consensus Total in Market: 39½
Highest Total: 40
Totals Trends, Thoughts: As you can see from the list of the L10 meetings in this series, the Over is a strong 7-3 ATS with four games with 50+ Points scored and another with 60+ Points. However, the Wind Chill was probably not 11° for most of those games. Maybe in the beer coolers under the stands. And as you will see below, there are many strong Trends to the Under that make the Total a very tough call. The conventional wisdom here is that the Broncos Defense will have to stop the Bengals Offense in this situation, with so much on the line, but with the Total so low, a TD off a TO and/or a Special Teams could ruin any perceived or wanted Slow Pace (the same way a Grand Slam almost always dooms lower Totals in MLB). Cincinnati and Alabama product McCarron know they will have to score, and with so many great Skill Position players on the Roster like WR AJ Green (Anytime TD Scorer, +114, bet365), WR Marvin Jones (+229), RB Giovani Bernard (+180) and RB Jeremy Hill (+120), the visitors (27.0 ppg, Tied for #4 in NFL) should find the End Zone 2 or 3 times and the Over seems more logical than the Under here than playing the Weather Forecast or the narrative. The Broncos probably love that it’s going to be freezing and expect both teams to get to 20 (points) in such a big game. Neither HC will want to have empty drives and there may be a bunch of FGs. Note: Broncos 1st Quarter Unders are 11-3 ATS this season, but have gone Over in 2 of the L3 and with the Cold and in this particular situation, the Under seems safer than the Over in the first 15 minutes here (1st Quarter), but at 7½ and not 7 (7½, Under -155, Paddy Power).

 

Why Take the Denver Broncos on Money Line? (In List Form Because It Works)
The Broncos -179 (bet365) may be worth a small play on the Money Line in Week 16 on Monday Night Football for a bunch of seemingly simple reasons, but the amounts will be crucial here as this is not one to over-bet because of its isolation on the Schedule or because it means so much. There will be two very inexperienced NFL QBs under Center in Colorado and this one is honestly a great game to totally avoid and just enjoy if you have any of that (Will Power, Discipline or No Feel For Anything in the game). But because of a number of things that can’t be overlooked, the call to win the game goes to 1st year Head Coach Gary Kubiak and the Broncos. Here’s why...

1—The Broncos need the Win more. The currently projected 3rd Seed from the AFC, Denver (10-4) really needs the victory here to not put themselves in a precarious position heading into Week 17 (vs. Chargers; Broncos -9½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook Advanced Line). The Broncos can still finish at 12-4 and earn a 1st Round Bye and Home-field Advantage for the AFC Playoffs or they can still finish 10-6 and not even make the Postseason. So, to avoid the drama and unnecessary stress and glide into the Playoffs like they always do about this time, expect Denver RBs CJ Anderson (Anytime TD Scorer, -137, bet365) and Ronnie Hillman (-111) to help the hosts to that end. But then again, it seemed that the Eagles had to win on SNF and look at them now, already waiting on next season. Remember that last-week rush of NFL Super Bowl Futures bets on the Eagles that drove the odds down to awkward-looking levels at least as low as 8/1? (Please show your faces.) They were awkward looking levels for a reason.

2—The Weather being so damn Cold (10° forecast plus any Wind Chill). This will obviously help the team that lives, practices and plays in this climate.

3—The Altitude. Denver is used to playing and breathing at 5,280 feet above Sea Level whereas the Bengals—who will also be without TE Tyler Eifert (Concussion)—are used to playing in a city at just 433 feet above Sea Level where the denizens elected Jerry Springer as their Mayor, snort Skyline Chili and can see Kentucky from their backyards. One of these things is not true.

4—The Body Clock Time Difference. The Bengals will be playing two Time Zones later (EST to MST) than the Broncos and with a scheduled Kickoff Time of 8:30 p.m. EST. So that means it will seem late to the visitors and with NFL games lasting around 3 hours, it will be almost Midnight for the Body Clocks on the Bengals who probably aren’t pushed until Midnight in practices by longtime Head Coach Marvin Lewis (104-97-11 ATS) in the Queen City. A small advantage, but still, one nonetheless.

5—The Site, Sports Authority Field at Mile High Stadium. A place at which Denver has been extremely dominant through recent years and one of the best Home-field Advantages in the NFL. Over the L3+ seasons, the Broncos are 26-4 SU at Home and the L9 times Cincinnati has been in the Rocky Mountains, they flew back to the Buckeye State as losers with a capital ‘L’. The last time Cincinnati won here was 40 years ago in 1975—when people actually went out and bought Rocks and called them Pet Rocks—by a 17-16 score at Mile High Stadium. The Broncos are 15-4 SU the L19 at Home in the Mile High City and have simply owned this team from the Craig Morton years through John Elway through Peyton Manning, although the Cats and Dalton did bop Peyton in the Broncos Manning meeting last time out and some may secretly be wishing he were starting here (He’s been ruled Out.) Well, maybe some of them.

6—Arizona State product Brock Osweiler has more Confidence, Experience and Expectations than AJ McCarron here and is also Bigger (6-8, 240 pounds vs. 6-3, 210) Faster (4.83 to 4.91 40-Yard Dash Times) and more Athletic than the Bengals backup is and has more Starts (5-1) under his belt, albeit in this Fall/Winter 2015 variety, like 1st year-man McCarron who will be making only his 2nd career Start. Osweiler has also watched and played behind future Hall of Famer Manning, no disrespect to the Injured Andy Dalton. Osweiler is thinking and acting like a starting QB (and his teammates see that) whereas McCarron is like a late fill-in real backup who likely won’t supplant Dalton in Cincy any time soon (and his teammates know that).

7—Taking Denver and WRs Demaryius Thomas (Anytime TD Scorer, -105, bet365) and Emmanuel Sanders (+110) and TEs Owen Daniels (+250) and former Niners veteran Vernon Davis (+250) on the Money Line seems way safer than hoping that Cincinnati loses its first Road game ATS away from home (7-0 ATS on Road). This one should be very close throughout and in the end and Overtime is a remote possibility.

 

Monday Night Football Trends & How Could This Monstrous Week 16 AFC Showdown Play Out?
A Loss for the Bengals here would tie them with the Broncos with 11-4 Records in a theoretical fight for the No. 2 seed in the conference and for the winner, this is all about trying to secure that valuable Playoff Home game down the line should it come to that. As you can see above in the L10 meetings in this series list, when these two last met, the Bengals won 37-28 last year at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, covering ATS and winning outright as 3½-point underdogs. With Dalton out, this seems to hurt the Bengals more but remember how much trouble the Broncos have had converting Possessions into TDs of late (and you can also see why this Total is under 40 at some sportsbooks). Both of these teams have been great covering ATS-wise, but Cincinnati (11-2-1 ATS) has a shot to be the 2015/16 NFL ATS Point Spread Champs and the Bengals are an impressive 8-2 ATS their L10 against the AFC. As far as the Total and Trends, Denver Unders are 8-4-1 ATS O/U this season while the AFC’s current projected #2 Seed for the Playoffs, Cincinnati is 7-7 O/U. The Under is 7-2 ATS the L9 Bengals games on Grass (Sports Authority Field) and 11-5-1 ATS in the Broncos L17 on the real stuff while the Under is 7-3 ATS the L10 Denver games in December. All in all, this seems like a spot where Osweiler will galvanize his current role as Broncos starting QB and shine under the bright spotlight in primetime, making Broncos General Manager John Elway very aware that he will not want to let this big kid go anywhere in the Future. Osweiler has the potential to be a very good QB and even a star in the NFL, he’s that good.

The Monday Night Football Trends see Denver 8-15 ATS as a Home Favorite and 16-11 Overs while the Bengals are 3-9 ATS as a Road Underdog with its Away Totals record at 11-2 ATS Overs, so out of 40 games played on Mondays, a whopping 27 (67.5%) paid Over backers and we know the General Public loves to bet Overs on primetime TV games, let alone in general. But no doubt those Denver and Cincinnati teams didn't have the combined killer Defenses these two do with the Bengals allowing an NFL-low 17.4 ppg and the Broncos giving up just 18.5 ppg and possessing the #1 overall Total Defense (3,919 yards allowed) in the league. Spladow. So again, the forecasted Cold Weather, the backup QBs, Denver’s inability to convert Drives into 6s and two vaunted Defense are the reason why the Total here is so low. Although this is one of the biggest games of the year, and should be extremely Shakespearean, with McCarron and Osweiler in this spot, it may be the definition of two QBs simply trying to “manage” the game and almost anything could happen, except Uncle Peyton (Ruled Out) coming in to throw the winning TD in a blizzard. The Bengals can very easily win this so this is one of those games best approached either recreationally or not at all. The astute gambler knows there is always something better that day or that something else will come along and that constantly betting on TV games because they are the only ones on defeats the whole purpose of trying to get ahead, although some non-professionals understand this and just have fun with it and make sure their TVs will be kept being yelled at for bringing bad scores.