Houston was on the bye in Week 9, yet by doing nothing its chances to win the division got much, much better. The Texans (3-5) trail the Indianapolis Colts by a half-game in the putrid AFC South. Indy (4-5) upset Denver on Sunday, but Tuesday the Colts learned that star quarterback Andrew Luck will miss likely a month with a lacerated kidney. No team benefits more from that than Houston because the Jaguars and Titans aren't good enough to challenge for the South title yet even though it may only take six wins. Good luck finding AFC South futures, however, as the books have taken them down until there's more clarity on Luck.
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As for Cincinnati, which is 8-0 for the first time in franchise history, it also caught a break this week when it was learned that Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger would miss at least one game with a foot injury. The Bengals already lead the second-place Steelers by 3.5 games in the AFC North, so Big Ben's health probably wouldn't have mattered. Cincy now needs to focus on getting the No. 1 seed in the AFC over New England (8-0) and possibly Denver (7-1).
Bovada offers two specials that involve the Bengals this week. That any team finishes the season 16-0 is +250 and "no" at -400. Of course, that also applies to New England and Carolina. That Cincinnati does it is +1500 with no at -3000. I'd certainly rate the Bengals' schedule as harder than the Pats or Cats. Cincy finishes: at Arizona, vs. St. Louis, at Cleveland, vs. Pittsburgh (Big Ben will be back by then), at San Francisco, at Denver, vs. Baltimore. The Bengals are +450 on BetOnline to be the final unbeaten team left with the Patriots at -235 and Panthers +400. I do think Cincy loses next week at Arizona.
Texans at Bengals Betting Story Lines
Houston is pretty healthy off its bye week. Receiver Cecil Shorts missed the final two games before the bye but will return. Left tackle Duane Brown also will play after suffering a concussion in Week 8. However, top cornerback Kareem Jackson hasn't played since Week 6 due to an ankle injury and won't here. The Texans have yet to win back-to-back games this season but are off a Week 8 20-6 win over Tennessee. That was their first game since losing star running back Arian Foster to a season-ending injury. Houston had only 56 yards on 23 carries vs. the Titans without him.
Bovada also offers a Week 10 special that affects Houston. The site lists J.J. Watt as the +150 favorite to lead the NFL in sacks. Watt has 8.5, one behind New England's Chandler Jones (+175). Watt is on pace to join the great Reggie White as the only players with three 17-sack seasons since the statistic became official 33 years ago.
The Bengals had little trouble last Thursday in beating visiting Cleveland 31-10. I thought that might be a bit of a trap game off a big win in Pittsburgh. Cincy tight end Tyler Eifert has become a fantasy football monster as he had three TD catches in that game. He leads the NFL with nine touchdown catches and is on track to tie Rob Gronkowski's single-season tight end record for total touchdowns (18 in 2011) and surpass Carl Pickens' single-season club mark for touchdowns (17 in 1995). The win improved Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton to 4-7 in prime-time games. His numbers had been way worse at night than in day games but he was great vs. the Browns.
Cincinnati ended a five-game losing streak in this series (playoffs included) with a 22-13 win in Houston in Week 12 last year. Dalton threw for 233 yards and a score with an interception. A.J. Green caught 12 of those passes for 121 yards. Jeremy Hill had 87 yards and a TD on 18 carries. Ryan Mallett, released earlier this season, was making his second career start for Houston in that one. He completed only 21-for-45 for 189 yards and a pick. Like now, the Texans didn't have an injured Foster. Their only TD was on a Johnathan Joseph 60-yard INT return.
Texans at Bengals Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , Cincinnati is a 12-point favorite (+110) with a total of 47. The Bengals are -500 on the moneyline and Texans +400. On the alternate lines, Cincy is -11.5 (+105), -11 (-102), -10.5 (-110), -10 (-120) and -9.5 (-130). Houston is 3-5 against the spread this season (1-3 on road) and 5-2-1 "over/under" (3-0-1 on road). Cincinnati is 7-0-1 ATS (3-0-1 at home) and 5-3 O/U (2-2 at home).
Houston has covered just three of its past 16 after a win. It is 0-7 ATS in its past seven Monday games. The Bengals have failed to cover once in the past 10 at home vs. teams with a losing road record. They are 7-0 ATS in their past seven vs. the AFC. The over is 5-1 in Houston's past six vs. the AFC. The under is 6-0 in Cincy's past six in November. The over is 7-2 in its past nine at home against teams with a losing road record. Houston is 6-1 ATS in the past seven meetings.
Monday Night Football Picks: Texans at Bengals Betting Predictions
In four career games against the Texans, including the playoffs, Dalton has a 1-3 record, two touchdowns, six turnovers and seven sacks. All five of the Texans' interceptions against Dalton were on passes intended for Green. But this Bengals team has many more weapons, and Dalton is a better QB. Still, 12 points is a lot to give a team off a bye. Houston is also getting a couple of key guys back healthy. I'd probably give 9.5 were it available but not 12. Go under the total.
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