It’s been an up-and-down season for the Bengals, but they’re back on top of the NFC North, and the sharps have made the Bengals a premium NFL pick this week against the Tampa Bay.
Jason’s record after Week 11: 29-43 ATS, 13-17-1 Totals
Profit: minus-45.95 units
It’s been a while since the NFC North got much respect. But as we head into Week 13 of the NFL season, there are no losers in this division. All four teams have winning records, and for now, the team on top is the Cincinnati Bengals (7-3-1 SU, 6-4-1 ATS). They’ve retaken the North with back-to-back road wins; on Sunday, Cincinnati messed with the Houston Texans, winning 22-13 as a 6-point underdog.
It hasn’t been a smooth ride to the top for the Bengals, but this week, the sharps are behind them 100 percent. That’s according to our early consensus reports for Sunday’s matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, FOX) against the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, who opened as 4-point home dogs on the Week 13 NFL odds board.
The Right Stripes
It certainly looked at the start of the season like the Bengals were on their way to bigger things. They won three straight games SU and ATS before taking their early bye week – and that’s when things went a little haywire. Cincinnati lost the next three games ATS, with just the one 37-37 tie against the Carolina Panthers (+7 at home) to show in the standings.
Then the Bengals turned it around again. They’ve won four of their last five games at 3-1-1 ATS, including a major 27-10 upset of the New Orleans Saints (–8.5) at the Superdome. Having said that, the sharps may be more interested in fading the Buccaneers (2-9 SU, 4-7 ATS) than they are in following the Bengals. Tampa Bay’s coming off a 21-13 loss to the Chicago Bears (–4 at home), and getting back to Raymond James Stadium might not change things, as the Bucs are 0-5 SU and ATS at home this year.
The sharps were also 100 percent behind the Arizona Cardinals (9-2 SU, 8-3 ATS) when the Cards opened as a pick ‘em for next Sunday’s contest at the Georgia Dome against the Atlanta Falcons (4-7 SU and ATS). Both teams lost in Week 12; the Cardinals (+7.5 away) fell 19-3 to the Seattle Seahawks to give up some ground in the NFC West, while the Falcons (–3 at home) couldn’t hold off the Cleveland Browns in a 26-24 final.
Things could still go very sour for the Cardinals despite their record – and the support of the sharps. Drew Stanton (84.1 passer rating) has done an admirable job filling in for Carson Palmer (95.6 passer rating), but he hasn’t produced at quite the same level as the former Heisman winner. However, Arizona’s defense is still outstanding, while the Falcons had the least efficient defense in the league going into Week 12
Turkey Lurkey Lions
The Detroit Lions (7-4 SU, 5-6 ATS) also lost in Week 12, as the New England Patriots rolled them 34-9 as 7.5-point home faves. But again, the Lions are an overwhelming early NFL pick in Week 13, as they prepare to kick-off Thursday’s Thanksgiving Day tripleheader with a home game against the aforementioned Bears. The football odds at press time had Detroit laying 6.5 points, up from –5.5 at the open.
The sharps weren’t quite unanimous in their support of the Lions – just 99 percent in this case. But strength of opposition is half the game, and savvy bettors are clearly not impressed by Chicago’s win over the lowly Buccaneers. Nor are they put off by Detroit’s loss to the white-hot Patriots. The Lions are 4-1 SU and 3-2 ATS this year at Ford Field, while the Bears are 3-3 SU and ATS on the road. Also, the Bears lost both LB Lance Briggs (groin) and CB Kyle Fuller (knee) to injury against Tampa Bay. Can they recover in time for Thursday?