Sitting at 3-5-1 with just seven games remaining, Cincinnati cannot afford a loss to 4-5 Buffalo this week if the team wants to win AFC North again this year. The Bengals needed a 12-4 record to win it last year, but the division has fallen off a cliff this year, enough so that an 8-7-1 record may very well be enough to win it.
But just to get even that record will prove almost impossible without a win over the reeling Bills this Sunday. Sure, Buffalo has looked impressive at times this season, but not enough that the Bengals shouldn’t win this game if they are a legitimate playoff threat, which everyone is starting to doubt Cincinnati is.
This game has been one of the most interesting ones to monitor in Week 11. The Bengals come into this game as a 2.5-point favorite, according to OddsShark. Some oddsmakers have had Cincinnati pegged as high a four-point favorite and as low as one point. Seeing the line fluctuate like that shows that, while there is confidence in Cincinnati winning, it isn’t great by any means.
Here are some of the recent betting trends for both teams, courtesy of OddsShark:
- Cincinnati is 2-7-2 against the spread in its last 11 games
- Cincinnati is 1-3-1 straight up in its last 5 games
- Cincinnati is 2-4-1 against the spread in its last 7 games at home
- The total has gone over in 5 of Buffalo's last 5 games
- Buffalo is 2-5-2 against the spread in its last 9 games on the road
- Buffalo is 2-7 straight up in its last 9 games on the road
- The total has gone over in 4 of Buffalo's last 6 games on the road
- Cincinnati is 3-10 against the spread in its last 13 games when playing Buffalo
- Cincinnati is 3-10 straight up in its last 13 games when playing Buffalo
- The total has gone over in 5 of Cincinnati's last 5 games when playing Buffalo
- Cincinnati is 1-4 against the spread in its last 5 games when playing at home against Buffalo
- Cincinnati is 1-4 straight up in its last 5 games when playing at home against Buffalo
- The total has gone over in 5 of Cincinnati's last 5 games when playing at home against Buffalo
Even though Buffalo has the better record, most of the experts are picking Cincinnati to win.
- Over at CBS Sports, their eight experts have five picking the Bengals, leaving three picking the Bills.
- At ESPN, seven of their nine experts think the Bengals will win it.
- At SB Nation, it's a similar spread with five of nine picks coming in for the Bengals.
- FOX Sports’ six-man crew features a 3-3 split.
- What If Sports projects a 24-23 Bengals win.
- NFL Picks Watch, which takes into account all of the expert pickers across the internet, has Cincinnati getting 64-percent of the picks at the time this post was published.
It’s safe to say the Bengals are viewed as the favorite in the eyes of most experts for this matchup. That ultimately means little, but if you’ve watched both of these teams play, it’s easy to see why this game is viewed as one of the bigger toss-ups of Week 11.
Nothing we’ve seen to this point suggests either of these teams are significantly better than the other. The only reason Cincinnati is favored is because they have home-field advantage.
The good news is that the Bengals have beaten the Jets and Dolphins this season, two teams who have beaten this Bills team. That still means little, especially with how great Buffalo looks one week and how bad they look the next.
Regardless, if the Bengals don’t win this game, it’s safe to say they don’t deserve to even think about a playoff berth.