Home Favorite Bengals to Cover vs. Titans NFL Picks

Kevin Stott

Thursday, September 18, 2014 4:45 PM GMT

This AFC matchup between the Titans and the Bengals in The Queen City will be one of the better games on the schedule in NFL Week 3 and could turn into a shootout. Is the Over worthy of a pick here?

Tennessee Titans vs. Cincinnati Bengals, Sunday, 1 p.m. ET/10 a.m. PT
The Bengals (2-0 SU, 2-0 ATS) and QB Andy Dalton have made huge strides in the NFL these last couple of years and all of a sudden find themselves on top of the competitive AFC North with a 2-0 record while the Ravens, Steelers and Browns all sit at 1-1 heading into Week 3. Year-in and year-out, the Titans (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS) are one of the hardest teams in the NFL for both fans and sports bettors to figure out and first-year Ken Whisenhunt has the unenviable position of now being the guy in Nashville to try to turn the Titans into a consistent winner. And he has to do it with QB Jake Locker (67 completions, 500 yards, 3 TDs) at the helm and in an AFC South which includes the Texans, Jaguars and Colts—and it may be too early in the NFL season to deem that reality either a good or a bad thing.

 

Bengals Head Into This Home Game a Bit Beat-up But Very Confident
Cincinnati has outscored its opponents 47-26 to start the new season and head coach Marvin Lewis has to be thrilled with his team heading into this game against a typically odd Titans team which won in Week 1 as 3-point underdogs at Kansas City (26-10) and then lost by an identical 26-10 score at home (as 3-point favorites) to the Cowboys last week in Week 2. Maybe the best thing to do with the Titans is to just expect the opposite thing to actually end up happening. And it’s sort of been this way seemingly forever with the quirky Titans team.

Against the Cowboys, Tennessee only ran 49 plays and possessed the ball for an anemic 18:49, so it’s no surprise that Tennessee and Locker were just 2-of-10 on third down in the game. One bright spot, and definitely a cause for concern for the Bengals here at Turf of Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati—and that “turf” is FieldTurf—is that the Titans are #1 in the NFL in Pass Defense, allowing an average of just 163.0 yards per game heading in. So that means that Dalton (61 completions, 563 yards, 2 TDs) and the Bengals may have to try to concentrate on rushing the ball more against Tennessee. And Cincinnati also has a number of injuries with which to deal, including star WR AJ Green (hamstring) who is listed as questionable for Sunday, LB Vontaze Burfict (out) and WR Marvin Jones (foot) who is out indefinitely. CB Chris Lewis-Harris will be eligible for the Bengals for this one serving his suspension. Tennessee has some injury concerns but nothing like the Bengals who need Green and Burfict to be at full potential.

Oddsmakers have made host Cincinnati 6½- (Pinnacle) to 7-point (bet365, SIA) favorites here with the Total set at 43½ (bet365). Usually a matchup between these two in Cincinnati would have a closer line (between the two teams), but with the way the Bengals (#3 in NFL in passing, 301 ypg) have looked combined with the Titans absolutely abysmal performance against Dallas is a big part of the reason this line is a touchdown.

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What Are the Significant Betting Trends and Who are the Players to Watch?
Other NFL odds worth mentioning for this game are Bengals Moneyline (-333, Sky Bet) and Titans Moneyline (+260); Bengals Team Total (25½, bet365) and Titans Team Total (18½); and Halftime/Fulltime Cincinnati Bengals/Cincinnati Bengals (-175, Sky Bet), the latter prop bet seeming like most logical and most fairly priced option by backing the home team. And Bengals RB Giovani Bernard—who leads Cincinnati in both rushing (138) and passing (141) yards—will be likely the workhorse again for Dalton, so backing Bernard in the Anytime TD Scorer marketplace is highly recommended as he will have his hands on the ball a lot and can win the bet from either a rushing or a passing attempt, something most Anytime TD Scorer candidates don’t have going for them. Also, the Race to 10 Points prop bet is worth a look with the Bengals -200 (BetVictor) more likely to get to that number (10) first because of its stellar defense (#3 in NFL with an average of 13.0 ppg allowed) which has given up just 3 TDs in its’ first 2 games against two fairly decent NFL sides (Atlanta Falcons, Baltimore Ravens).

The trends are really a mixed-bag in this game, including these two which leave one wanting to absolutely leave the Total (42½) alone: The Over is 14-7 in the L21 in this series in Cincinnati but the Under is 6-1 in the L7. So, it was high-scoring and now it’s more low-scoring between these two. Also, the Titans are 6-1 SU L7 on the Road at Cincinnati and the Bengals are 2-4-1 ATS L7 against Tennessee at Home. But, the Bengals are 10-1 SU in their L11, and although this possibly won’t be an easy matchup for Lewis and his club, the way the Titans have struggled to score and control the ball combined with the thought that this is the best Cincinnati’s defense in a very long time makes it seem like the Titans will have trouble getting to that 18½ Team Total mark.

Toss in the Bengals present confidence, the fact that they are playing at home in front of a now energized and present fanbase—certainly worth at least another 1 point or 2 on top of the theoretical 3 points built in for homefield advantage in my mind—the fact that Cincinnati was 6-1 ATS as Home Favorites last season and that the Titans are 1-5-1 ATS over their L7 and almost all of the roads meet at the junction that says to take the Bengals -6½ or -7 in this one.

The home team Cincinnati should win this won by double-digits in the end as thinking about the mindset of the visiting Mideast neighbors Tennessee coming into the game with the simple intent of just trying to possess the ball a little more and just trying to convert on third down after the debacle against Dallas—the Titans had a total of just 13 first downs—is a whole different mentality than the one the Bengals and QB Dalton will have coming in which probably will be more like the normal football mantra of “Let’s score some touchdowns here guys.” And, in the end, gamblers are always more concerned with the number of points on the board and not the number of first downs. The Bengals probably top the 30-point mark here while the Titans likely won’t even get to 20.

Free NFL Picks: Bengals -6½ (Pinnacle, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)

Props Picks: Giovani Bernard Anytime TD Scorer (Bengals), Race To 10 Points Bengals -200 (BetVictor)