CINCINNATI (-4.5) 28 Houston 21
I pegged Cincinnati as an underrated team before the season and the Bengals are sitting at 4-1 after last week's win at Baltimore. Cincy is just average offensively (5.2 yards per play against teams that would combine to allow 5.2 yppl to an average team) but the Bengals continue to play well defensively (5.1 yppl allowed to teams that would average 5.4 yppl against an average team), which is something I expected given how well the defense played early last season before injuries hit them.
That unit will get a good test today against a Houston attack that is having trouble running the ball (just 3.2 ypr) but is still averaging 5.7 yppl (against teams that would allow 5.3 yppl) due to the potent passing attack led by quarterback Matt Schaub and top receiver Andre Johnson. That match-up should be pretty even but the Bengals have an advantage when they have the ball, as Houston's defense has given up 6.1 yppl for the season (against teams that would average just 5.0 yppl against an average team) and have surrendered 6.2 yppl or more in 4 of their 5 games with the impotent Raiders being the only exception.
Houston does have a solid edge in special teams, which should help in field position, but my ratings favor Cincinnati by 5 points and my math model gives the Bengals a 54% chance of covering the spread.
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