Monday Night Football Picks: Cincinnati Bengals at New York Giants Odds & Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 11/10/2016
I thoroughly enjoy handicapping the NFL and certainly get more right than wrong over the course of a season. But, man, sometimes it's amazing how backward things can go. For example, in last Monday night's game between the Bills and Seahawks, I thought it had a chance to be the lowest-scoring MNF game of the season between two clubs who like to pound the ball, chew clock and win with defense. So of course they combined for 66 points.
Ah well, shake it off. I could certainly see both Buffalo and Seattle making the playoffs this year -- less so on the Bills -- and can say the same for the opponents this Monday night as the Cincinnati Bengals look for their first-ever win at the New York Giants.
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The Bengals (3-4-1) come out of their bye and are third in the AFC North, but that's the only division in football without a team above .500 entering Week 10. Cincinnati could be in sole possession of first place by Monday night with a win here if Baltimore (4-4) lost Thursday at home to Cleveland (doubtful) and Pittsburgh loses Sunday at home to red-hot Dallas. Most likely only the AFC North winner will make it to the postseason. Currently, Cincinnati has a 32.2 percent shot of reaching the playoffs for a sixth straight year. I'd still consider the Steelers the team to beat in the division.
The Giants (5-3) will be rooting for Pittsburgh on Sunday as New York is two games behind Dallas in the NFC East but does currently hold the head-to-head tiebreaker. If the playoffs started today, the G-Men would be the NFC's top wild-card team. They are given a 51.9 percent chance of reaching the playoffs via any route.
Bengals at Giants Betting Story Lines
Name the five-best receivers in the NFL. Pittsburgh's Antonio Brown and Atlanta's Julio Jones are on the list and are probably 1-2 in whichever order. An argument can be made that the Bengals' A.J. Green and Giants' Odell Beckham Jr. are next up. Green lost his No. 2 and No. 3 guys in Marvin Jones and Mohamed Sanu this offseason but is still producing with 59 catches (first in NFL) for 896 yards (second) and three scores. Beckham, who has a lot better receiving group around him, has 44 catches for 676 yards and five scores.
Because Cincinnati is off the bye, the team is pretty healthy. I think Green could only get more dangerous because now Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert should be 100 percent off his injuries. He missed the season's first six games but showed what a weapon he is for Andy Dalton in the Week 8 27-27 tie against the Redskins in London as Eifert had nine catches for 102 yards and a touchdown.
If there's one area to be addressed on the Bengals, it's the defense. That group allowed 546 yards to Washington and ranks 25th in yards per game (378.5 ypg) and 19th in scoring (23.6 ppg). Defensive coordinator Paul Guenther promised some changes this week. The team did just re-sign defensive lineman Wallace Gilberry and plans to use him as a situational pass rusher.
New York enters on a three-game winning streak and could easily extend that to six with a win here as the next two games are home to Chicago and at Cleveland, two cupcakes. The Giants haven't exactly dominated in the winning streak as each game was decided by seven points or fewer. But then every Giants game this season has other than a Week 4 loss in Minnesota. Their five victories have been by a total of 20 points.
Eli Manning had one of his better games of the year last week with four TD passes in a 28-23 victory over the Eagles. Beckham caught two of them. The only player who has more games with multiple receiving TDs than Beckham Jr. (eight) since he entered the league in 2014 is Pittsburgh's Brown (nine).
But Manning is still throwing picks (two) and has no running game at all. The Giants are averaging a ridiculous 49.8 yards on the ground since Week 3. In addition, No. 3 receiver Victor Cruz could miss Monday's game after hurting his ankle vs. Philly. But an MRI revealed no significant damage. Roger Lewis would slide into a bigger role. The Giants also won't have top offensive lineman Justin Pugh, the left guard, for 2-4 weeks due to a sprained MCL.
Defensively, safety Landon Collins has won NFC Defensive Player of the Week in back-to-back weeks. He's the first safety to do it in consecutive games since the Steelers' Troy Polamalu in 2010. Collins leads the Giants in tackles, sacks and interceptions.
Bengals at Giants Betting Odds and Trends
At 5Dimes , New York is a 1-point favorite (-120) with a total of 47. On the moneyline, the Giants are -130 and Bengals +110. On the alternate lines, the Giants are -1.5 (-115), -2 (-110) and -2.5 (-105). Cincinnati is 3-5 against the spread (1-3 on road) and 5-3 "over/under" (2-2 on road). New York is 4-3-1 ATS (2-2 at home) and 3-5 O/U (3-1 at home).
The Bengals are 0-5-1 ATS in their past six vs. teams with a winning record. The Giants are 5-2-1 ATS in their past seven after a win. They are 1-4 ATS in their past five on Monday. The over is 4-1 in Cincinnati's past five after an ATS loss. The over is 6-1 in New York's past seven in November.
Bengals at Giants Betting Prediction
New York is 3-6 all time vs. the Bengals, but all three wins have come at home -- last in 2008 before MetLife Stadium was around. The teams last played in 2012 and the Bengals won 31-13. Dalton threw four TDs that day and Manning none with two picks.
I do expect this game to be decided by a field goal, and while the Bengals have the better overall roster and are better rested as well, I'll take the home side to have its first four-game winning streak since 2013. So give that point and go over the total.
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Read more articles by Alan Matthews
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