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In Week 17, the Buffalo Bills will travel to Cincinnati to face the Bengals in a game with massive playoff implications. NFL bettor Jason Yamaguchi breaks down the matchup and offers his best bet for this fantastic Monday Night game.
ANALYSIS

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction, Pick, Odds: Can Josh Allen and Bills Find Success in Cincy?

The Monday Night game of the NFL's Week 17 slate stands as perhaps the most pivotal of the week, with the Bengals hosting the Bills in a showdown between two division-leading AFC teams. In terms of record, the top three teams in the AFC are the Bills and Chiefs at 12-3, and the Bengals at 11-4. As such, this game is vital on multiple fronts — not only do the Chiefs require a Bills loss to pass them for the all-important No. 1 seed in the conference, but any Bengals hope of snatching the first seed and therefore a bye would necessitate a win on Monday.

This matchup is particularly enticing because it features two of the NFL's hottest teams. The Bengals have won seven-straight games, including a signature win against the Chiefs. The Bills are in equally good form, winners of their last six. Although both teams will be facing playoff-caliber opposition in Week 18 (Cincy hosting Baltimore; Buffalo hosting New England), this will be the last opportunity for either team to measure up against a true Super Bowl contender. In other words, Monday will be a litmus test of sorts — both teams will be fully motivated to bring their best game.

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Bengals vs. Bills Start Time and Where to Watch

  • Date: January 2, 2023
  • Game Time: 8:30 pm ET
  • Where to Watch: ESPN, ABC

Bengals vs. Bills Odds

  • Spread: Bills -1
  • Total: Over 49.5 (-109), Under 49.5 (-105)
  • Moneyline Odds: Bills -120 / Bengals +100

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills Prediction

As much as I'm tempted to bet the Bills -1, I think that the spread is priced correctly. My player-based model has these two teams neck-and-neck in terms of power rating, with the Bills slightly ahead due to marginally better defense and equivalent offense. I would make this spread Bills -2.5 on a neutral field, meaning that Bills -1 is the appropriate price given the Bengals' home-field advantage. Therefore, there isn't a bet with value on the spread.

That being said, I think the point total is a shade high. Both of these teams have top-notch defenses — the Bills' defense is fourth in terms of year-long DVOA ranking, while the Bengals have allowed an average of 18.2 points over their last five games (despite playing the Chiefs during that stretch). On the year, the Bills have conceded the second-least points per game; the Bengals have allowed the ninth-least. An NFL game that includes two defenses of this caliber rarely sees its point total even approach 50, which speaks to the market's respect for each of these offenses.

However, this is where I disagree with the market's current position on the game. While both of these offenses are elite on paper, their recent efficiency and production statistics are a bit inflated due to the quality of opponents and a couple of fluky performances. Cincinnati, for one, scored 34 points against Tampa Bay just two weeks ago; 24 of those points, though, came directly off of turnovers, with the offense covering just 96 yards over those four scoring drives. The Bengals also struggled mightily in the second half of their game last week against the Patriots, failing to score a single point after halftime. That result can probably be attributed to the Patriots' adjustments on defense, but the fact remains: the Bengals' offense is not without flaws.

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On the Bills' side, Josh Allen and their offense appear to be firing on all cylinders. Indeed, the unit has scored 67 points over their last two games, and it has gained the second-most yards per game of any offense over the course of the year. However, the Bills faced the Bears and the Dolphins in their last two games, two teams whose defenses rank bottom-six in terms of points allowed and below average in both EPA allowed per play and DVOA. In fact, the Bills have only faced two top-10 defenses in terms of DVOA over their last 10 games, averaging 20.3 points against those teams. Buffalo has a good offense, no doubt — as does Cincinnati — but this game is less likely to be a shootout than the price implies. I think there is a fair amount of value on the under—bet this down to 48.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. Buffalo Bills Pick

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Article Author

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Jason Yamaguchi is an avid New York sports fan. He has a proven record of providing +EV bets by combining traditional handicapping tactics with advanced statistics. You can follow him on Twitter @TopMoneyPicks to view all of his bets, including NFL, NHL, and MLB picks.

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