With NFL postseason seeding on the line every week, these final few games of the regular season carry so much importance. That’s especially true for Saturday’s showdown between the Cincinnati Bengals and New England Patriots.
The Bengals (10-4) have won six in a row and pace the AFC North standings entering the home stretch of the season. They can’t afford to have a misstep this week in Foxborough, especially with matchups against the Buffalo Bills and Baltimore Ravens on deck.
Cincinnati is as hot as a team could be right now, coming off a 34-23 come-from-behind victory over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers. The Bengals got down 17-0 early but rattled off 34 unanswered points for their sixth win in a row.
The Patriots, who remain in the hunt in the AFC playoff picture with a 7-7 record, are coming off an epic 30-24 road loss to the Las Vegas Raiders. In a tie game, New England tried to lateral the ball multiple times in the final play of regulation, but the Raiders snatched the ball and defensive end Chandler Jones capped the game with a 48-yard walk-off fumble return.
How will New England respond to that heartbreaking defeat? Will Cincinnati get caught looking ahead? This game is truly fascinating from a betting perspective if you are bold enough to take a stance.
Caesars Sportsbook lists the Bengals as a 3-point road favorite with an over/under of 41.5.
Let’s take a closer look at the odds and trends:
Cincinnati Bengals at New England Patriots
Time/TV: 1 p.m. ET Saturday, CBS
Point spread (from Caesars Sportsbook): Bengals -3 (-115)
Money line: Bengals -160/Patriots +135
Analysis: It has been hard to bet against Joe Burrow and Co. over the last two seasons, which includes a remarkable playoff run to the Super Bowl last year. This season, the Bengals are 11-3 against the spread and have covered the spread in all six outings of their current win streak.
The Patriots are just 7-6-1 ATS, covering the number just once over the last four contests. New England is 6-8 to the over, while Cincinnati has a 5-8-1 clip at clearing the point total during the 2022-23 NFL regular season.
Burrow has been pretty spectacular all year, ranking second in the league with 31 touchdowns and is fourth in passing yards with 3,885. He is coming off a four-touchdown effort against the Bucs and has thrown for 14 touchdowns during this winning streak.
The Bengals will remain hot as long as Burrow is torching defenses, and there is no reason to believe that will change this week. The Patriots rank second in defensive DVOA via Football Outsiders, but Burrow has always proved to be at his best when the games matter the most.
Bet against the third-year quarterback at your own peril.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Patriots 20