NFL Picks: Betting Value on Texans +12.5 vs. Bengals Monday Night

Jason Lake

Sunday, November 15, 2015 12:40 AM UTC

Sunday, Nov. 15, 2015 12:40 AM UTC

The Cincinnati Bengals have been playing some excellent football this year. But are they overvalued as an NFL pick for Monday night's game against the Houston Texans?

Jason's 2015 record as of Nov. 13: 31-30-2 ATS; 0-1 ML (-1.00 units); 21-27 Total

Is it possible for an undefeated team to be overrated? Especially a small-market team like the Cincinnati Bengals? Yes, yes it is. The Bengals might be this year's most profitable NFL pick at 8-0 SU and 7-0-1 ATS, but according to the efficiency stats at Football Outsiders, the Bengals have played well enough to earn 7.5 Estimated Wins. They should have lost half a game by now~!

Meanwhile, the Houston Texans (3-5 SU and ATS) are sitting at 2.8 Estimated Wins going into the second half of the season. But how many more Actual Wins would they have had with Brian Hoyer starting all eight games instead of four? There was enough “hidden value” in these Texans for 65 percent of early bettors to pounce on Houston as an 11-point road dog on the NFL odds for Monday night's matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, ESPN) with the Bengals.


High in the Middle, Sharp at Both Ends
It's going to be very difficult to get the sharps off Houston as a double-digit underdog. Even so, our expanded consensus reports show major action coming in on Cincinnati – over 81 percent of the action, with an average bet size of $324 to just $64 for the Texans. Apparently, we're going to have to start drawing a clearer distinction here at the home office between sharps and high rollers. They often overlap, but they are two different subsets of the marketplace.

In the sharp world, big bets should be placed on games with big profit margins. That's just science. We tried using the Kelly criterion last year to judge those margins and recommend specific bet sizes, but we had to abandon ship; this year, we're just telling you to make small bets in situations that warrant small bets, which is most situations – including this one.


Brian >> Ryan
We're definitely confident that the betting value is on Houston's side. At press time, you can get the Texans as high as +12.5 with the requisite bump up in vigorish. They've gotten things turned around since dumping Ryan Mallett and putting Hoyer back at the controls. The Bengals did a great job of outperforming the market during the first half of the season, but market expectations have risen substantially over time.

Having said that, the Bengals are still playing excellent football. Using the Simple Rating System at Pro-Football Reference, Cincinnati is third overall at +11.7 SRS, while Houston is well down the list at –6.4 SRS. That would suggest a point spread of... let's see, carry the one... about 20 points for a game at Paul Brown Stadium. Duly noted, but we're still willing to recommend a small bet that those numbers devalue the Texans, because Mallett.

NFL Picks: Take the Texans +12.5 (–130) at 5Dimes

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