Bengals-Chiefs SNF Betting Preview: Another Week, Another Cover for KC?
USA Today Sports. Pictured: Kareem Hunt, Joe Mixon
Betting odds: Cincinnati Bengals at Kansas City Chiefs
- Spread: Chiefs -5.5
- Over/Under: 58.5
- Time: 8:20 p.m. ET
- TV channel: NBC
>> All odds as of Friday morning. Download The Action Network App to get real-time NFL odds and track your bets
Betting market: The cover kings — aka the 6-0 against-the-spread Chiefs — are getting nearly 80% of bets at the time of writing (see live data here).
They haven’t given anyone a reason to fade them, especially if you don’t have to lay a touchdown.
There’s been some buyback on Cincy when the line has reached six, causing it to site in the dead zone at 5.5.
More than 70% of bets are taking the over despite this being the highest total of the week. Interestingly enough, it’s actually dropped between a half point and a point depending on the book.
Trends to know: The over/under opened at 58.5 points. This would be just the ninth over/under of 58 or more points since 2003. The over hit in all previous eight games by an average of 8.5 points. — John Ewing
The Chiefs are giving up more than 28 points per game so far this season. When Andy Dalton faces a team that surrenders an average of 28 or more ppg, Cincy is 12-2 ATS (+10 units).
Since Dalton was drafted in 2011, he is the most profitable quarterback in the league against a bad defense, covering the spread by more than eight points per game in those contests. — Evan Abrams
Biggest mismatch: Chiefs special teams vs. Bengals special teams
Patrick Mahomes, the incomparable Tyreek Hill and the rest of the Chiefs offense have been getting a lot of love — and rightfully so — but I don’t hear enough appreciation for K.C.’s special teams unit, which has been nothing short of spectacular so far this season.
Kicker Harrison Butker has connected on all 11 field-goal attempts and each of his 26 extra-point tries. You can’t beat perfect.
The Chiefs’ punting game has also been close to perfect, as Dustin Colquitt’s impressive 45.5 net yards per punt average leads the NFL.
Kansas City opponents are only averaging 18.8 yards per kickoff return — the fifth-lowest mark in the NFL. And the Chiefs don’t punt often (only the Rams and Saints have punted fewer times), but their coverage has been excellent when they do. Their opponents are averaging just 1.7 yards per punt return, which paces the league.
Kansas City’s return game has also been extremely productive, as it ranks fourth in kick return average (28.8) and first in punt return average (26.7).
Not surprisingly, Football Outsiders ranks Kansas City’s special teams unit No. 1.
FO ranks the Bengals as a middle-of-the-road unit (No. 16), which is actually an improvement for a team that has struggled mightily on special teams in recent years.
Despite the gradual rise in efficiency, mainly due to productive return units, Cincy has really struggled in the kicking game in 2018:
Punter Kevin Huber’s 42.9 gross punting average ranks 29th in the NFL. Add that to a coverage unit that allows the third-most yards per return (13.6) and you get the second-worst net punting average in the league (36.3) — only the Chargers are worse. That’s not ideal against TyFreak, who might very well break one in the return game.
Kicker Randy Bullock is only 7-of-9 (77.8% or 25th in NFL among qualified kickers) on the year, which includes a miss in between 30-39 yards.
Everyone knows the Chiefs have an elite offense and a not-so-elite defense, but a big reason why they’ve covered every game is two of their three units have arguably been the class of the league so far in 2018.
They should have a significant advantage in getting more of those hidden yards via special teams on Sunday, which could very well lead to another cover. — Stuckey
Which team is healthier? Chiefs
The Bengals are all kinds of banged up, with the likes of linebacker Vincent Rey (hamstring), tight end C.J. Uzomah (shoulder), slot corner Darqueze Dennard (shoulder), safety Shawn Williams (concussion), center Billy Price (ankle) and running back Gio Bernard (knee) far from guaranteed to suit up. The good news is field stretcher John Ross (groin) should return.
The Chiefs are again expected to be without pass rusher Justin Houston (hamstring) and all-world safety Eric Berry (heel), but are otherwise fairly healthy aside from center Mitch Morse (concussion) and linebacker Anthony Hitchens (groin).
DFS edge: Mahomes and the Chiefs have taken the league by storm, averaging 35.8 points per game and a robust 6.8 yards per play.
Naturally, Hill has dazzled: He ranks second behind only Julio Jones among full-time receivers with 2.74 yards per route run.
Overall, TyFreak is the PPR WR3 this season. He has an exploitable matchup against a Bengals defense that has given up 1.8 DraftKings points above salary-based expectation to wide receivers over the past 12 months. — Ian Hartitz
Bet to watch: Bengals +6
Ultimately this is a marketplace, which means you will have success if you can identify when teams are overvalued or undervalued and then sell or buy accordingly.
Well, the Chiefs are simply too expensive here. I personally make the Bengals +1.5 on a neutral field, so +6 holds value after adjusting for home-field advantage.
A very basic way to set NFL power ratings is to look at net yards-per-play differential — the simplest way to account for what really matters: the difference between the yards you gain and allow on a per-play basis — even better if you manually adjust those numbers to remove meaningless noise from garbage time.
From a pure net yards-per-play perspective, these teams are very equal. The Chiefs have a +0.1 differential, which means their defense is almost as horrendous as their offense is elite, while the Bengals are -0.1. That implies the Chiefs should be -1.3 on a neutral field — right in line with my numbers.
I still have this Chiefs defense rated as one of the three worst in the league, while Football Outsiders has them at 28th DVOA. And once their third-down defensive numbers stabilize to a level more in line with their other numbers, it’s going to get even uglier on that side of the ball in KC.
The Chiefs will score, as they will against any team in the league, and the special teams discrepancy and a few potential Bengals injuries in the secondary worry me just a tad. But the Bengals have the talent on offense to keep up (or at least sneak in the backdoor if need be). — Stuckey
Editor’s note: The opinions on this game are from the individual writers and are based on their research, analysis and perspective. They are independent of, and may not always match with, the algorithm-driven Best Bets from Sports Insights.