NFL Picks: Bengals -3.5 the Smart Bet vs. Red Hot Chargers

Jason Lake

Wednesday, September 16, 2015 7:56 PM UTC

Wednesday, Sep. 16, 2015 7:56 PM UTC

It was a successful opening week for both the San Diego Chargers and the Cincinnati Bengals. Early bettors for their Week 2 matchup had the Chargers in their NFL picks.

Jason's 2015 record as of Sept.15: 4-3 ATS; 2-2 Total

Who has the best offense in the NFL right now? According to pure yardage, it's the San Diego Chargers. They racked up 483 total yards in their 33-28 victory over the Detroit Lions (+3.5 away), including 388 yards through the air. Impressive. The Cincinnati Bengals did quite well themselves in Week 1, torching the Oakland Raiders (+3 at home) for 396 yards in a 33-13 laugher. That was good enough for eighth overall in total yardage.

No surprise, then, that the OVER is the hot bet for Sunday's Week 2 matchup (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) at Paul Brown Stadium between the Chargers and Bengals. Our NFL odds board at press time shows a total of 46 points, up from 45.5 at the open, with a whopping 96 percent support on the OVER according to our consensus reports. As for the spread, the Chargers had the early action at +3.5 (–120), but bettors have since swung to the Bengals at –3 (–120). Magic number, tell me today, did all my friends have fun at play?


Anything Less Would Be Uncivilized
Total yards are nice, but unless you're brand new to making NFL picks, you know that efficiency trumps volume when it comes to predictive power. It's only one week's worth of data, but Football Outsiders ranks San Diego's offense No. 11 overall in DVOA (Defense-adusted Value Over Average). Cincinnati checks in at No. 6. Looks like Detroit supporters should be even more worried about their post-Suh defense than they already were.

Bengals fans, meanwhile, have to like what they saw on both sides of the ball against Oakland. Football Outsiders has Cincinnati's defense ranked No. 7 in DVOA, two steps ahead of San Diego. Given the relative expectations for both teams going into the 2015 campaign, it's a simple step from here to support the Bengals as 3-point home faves on Sunday. Note that the Chargers are already down RG D.J. Fluker, who suffered a high-ankle sprain and will miss the next 4-6 weeks.


No On 46
We're actually tempted to give the OVER a look instead. But 46 isn't one of those totals that we'd expect to generate much profit in the long run, no matter which side we might add to our football picks. And we have to be a bit concerned about San Diego's offense with Fluker on the shelf. Chris Hairston did do a nice job in relief against the Lions, though.

We'll stick with the Bengals for a small bet instead. They came out of Week 1 relatively clean, the advanced stats are on their side, and they've been a profitable pick in each of the past four seasons under the Marvin Lewis-Andy Dalton regime. Just don't ask us to bet on Cincinnati come playoff-time.

NFL Pick: Bengals –3.5 (+111) at Pinnacle

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