NFL Picks: Bengals vs. Lions Week 7

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 17, 2013 1:10 PM UTC

Thursday, Oct. 17, 2013 1:10 PM UTC

The Detroit Lions have made good on their promise as NFL betting candidates. The Cincinnati Bengals haven’t done too badly themselves. Something’s gotta give this Sunday.

Jason’s record on his final NFL picks for 2013, up to October 16 inclusive:

16-15-1 ATS

1-1 ML (+0.71 units)

3-5 Totals

Life may be tough in America’s old manufacturing centers, but that’s where the NFL was born, and it’s always good to see football thrive in the Rust Belt. Especially in Detroit, where the locals have been waiting over 20 years for the Lions to win a playoff game. Playoffs?! Yes, the Lions look like they might make the postseason again at 4-2 SU and ATS. It’s all a question of avoiding injuries (and suspensions) at this point. 

No avoiding the Cincinnati Bengals, though. The Bengals are on top of the slumping AFC North at 4-2 SU and 3-2-1 ATS, and the Week 7 NFL betting lines show Cincinnati getting 2.5 points this Sunday (1:00 p.m. ET, CBS) at Ford Field. Our NFL betting consensus reports have the Lions with a small majority of bettors on their side in very light action. Once more unto the breach?

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Maybe not. Here we are with another matchup with a 2.5-point road dog, which suggests the NFL odds market values Detroit and Cincinnati about the same on neutral ground. But that’s not quite how the fine folks at Football Outsiders see it. They’ve got the Bengals ranked No. 9 in efficiency through Week 6 (No. 15 offense, No. 6 defense, No. 22 special teams), three spots ahead of the Lions (No. 11 offense, No. 17 defense, No. 18 special teams). In terms of Estimated Wins, Cincinnati again has the edge, 4.0 to 3.8.

Once again, strength of schedule is key here. The Bengals have played the No. 5-ranked schedule thus far, beating the Green Bay Packers (–3) and the New England Patriots (–2) at home. The Lions lost to the Packers (–10) in Green Bay, while beating the likes of Washington (+1) and Cleveland (+1) on the road, and Minnesota (+4) at home. That adds up to the No. 26-ranked schedule in the NFL. Roar?


Ow! My Johnson!

If you’re a fan of those Estimated Wins, you’ll already know that Detroit was a strong follow candidate for 2013 after going 4-12 SU (6-10 ATS) last year despite playing well enough to earn 7.6 Estimated Wins. The culprit: injuries and suspensions, same as every year. And the Lions are indeed starting to fall apart again. Maybe they should change their name to the Detroit Pintos.

The biggest concern is at wide receiver, where Calvin Johnson (24 catches, four TDs) was forced to miss the Packers game with a sore knee, then made just three catches for 25 yards in last week’s victory over the Browns. Johnson managed to practice on Tuesday and Wednesday, so he’ll presumably be in action on Sunday. But he’ll be at less than 100 percent, and he’ll be without WR Nate Burleson (forearm) and TE Tony Scheffler (concussion).

Follow our continuing football betting coverage with Daily NFL Week 7 Betting Odds Report!


Cincinnati’s got a fairly clean bill of health at the moment, and the stout Bengals defense is the dominant factor in this matchup. They rank No. 4 in efficiency against the pass, and No. 4 against their opponents’ top wide receivers. Cincinnati has also forced nine fumbles (returning one for a TD) to Detroit’s six.

Nice, but from a football betting perspective, Cincinnati’s greatest weapon might be QB Andy Dalton. Does he get overlooked because he’s a game manager, or because he’s a redhead? Either way, his plus-110 Total DYAR (Defense-adjusted Yards Above Replacement) puts him ahead of New England QB Tom Brady (plus-78) through Week 6. I’ll buy that for a dollar.

NFL Pick: Take the Bengals +2.5 (+105) at Sports Interaction

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