MNF NFL Picks: Take Bengals +3.5 In Huge AFC Clash With Broncos

Jake Walker

Sunday, December 27, 2015 1:19 AM GMT

The Cincinnati Bengals (11-3) travel to Sports Authority Field at Mile High to face the Denver Broncos (10-4) in a game with playoff implications. NFL odds makers favor Denver by 3.5 points.

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NFL Pick: Bengals +3.5

Best Line Offered: at Pinnacle

 

Cincinnati Bengals
The Bengals, who hold a one-game lead over the Broncos and are one game behind the Patriots for the best record in the AFC, can also clinch the AFC North title with a win. 

A.J. McCarron replaced the injured Andy Dalton in the 33-20 loss against the Steelers, throwing for two touchdowns and two interceptions, but he played well in last week's 24-14 win at San Francisco, passing for 192 yards on 15-of-21 despite not having star tight end Tyler Eifert at his disposal and A.J. Green not playing at 100 percent. 

Eifert is expected to miss this game due to a concussion and the Cincinnati ground game has struggled the past two weeks, which means that McCarron will have an uphill battle against the Broncos and their top-ranked defense; although the Bengals also thrive on that side of the ball, allowing an NFL-low 17.4 points per game and just 337.3 total yards.  

McCarron has completed 70.2 percent of his passes for 494 yards, three touchdowns and two interceptions and A.J. Green has 1,206 receiving yards and eight touchdowns. The Cincinnati ground game is averaging 110.9 yards per game (15th in the NFL), with Giovani Bernard leading the way with 680 rushing yards and two touchdowns.

 

Denver Broncos
Brock Osweiler will make his sixth start replacing Peyton Manning. The Broncos are 3-2 with Osweiler under center after blowing a 17-point halftime lead in a 34-27 loss against the Steelers last Sunday. Denver can still earn the No. 2 seed in the AFC and a bye in the first week of the playoffs, but their lead over Kansas City in the AFC West is now just one game.

Osweiler had an outstanding first half last week, throwing for three touchdowns and running for another but he failed to put any points on the board in the second half for the third straight week. The Steelers' passing game torched the Broncos, but Denver is still tied for the league lead with 47 sacks and they have have the No. 1 run defense.

Backup quarterback Brock Osweiler has completed 60.3 percent of his passes for 1,436 yards, eight touchdowns and four interceptions. Demaryius Thomas leads the Broncos with 1,128 receiving yards to go along with 5 touchdowns. The Denver running game averages 99.6 yards per game. Ronnie Hillman leads the team with rushing 711 yards and six touchdowns. The Broncos allow just 18.5 points and 279.9 total yards per game. 

 

Betting Trends
The Bengals are 11-2 ATS, 3-0 ATS as an underdog and 7-0 ATS in road games. The Broncos on the other hand are 4-5 ATS as a favorite, 0-1 ATS after two or more consecutive losses and 1-2 ATS in all games where the line is between 35.5 and 42.

 

Final Analysis
The betting trends favor the Bengals and this is closer to a toss up game, as both backup quarterbacks are a bit unproven. Osweiler hasn't been able to close out games in recent weeks and it's hard to say if McCarron is a reliable quarterback based on limited appearances. The Bengals are at +3.5 NFL odds at most sportsbooks and I like getting more than a field goal with a team with such a strong defense. I'm taking the Bengals and the points with my NFL picks.