The Bengals are in the kind of matchup the NFL and its TV networks love Sunday, hosting the Kansas City Chiefs in a late-afternoon contest of marquee quarterbacks expected to light up the scoreboard.
Though Ohioans can’t bet legally in the state for another month, the oddsmakers at the nation’s top online sportsbooks make Cincinnati a small underdog in a game featuring two AFC powerhouses that battled for last year’s conference championship. BetMGM has the Chiefs tied with the Buffalo Bills at +200 to win the AFC this year, with the Bengals at +1000.
Another young quarterback star will receive plenty of attention Sunday for different reasons. It’s the Browns debut of Deshaun Watson, whose return from suspension has Cleveland as a touchdown favorite against Watson’s old team, the woeful Houston Texans.
The Deshaun Watson Era officially starts today.#Browns pic.twitter.com/qKZzak40Ks
— Gettin’ Down With The Browns Podcast (@DWTB_) November 28, 2022
Below are summaries of how the games involving Ohio’s NFL teams are sized up by oddsmakers.
Both teams on winning streaks
The Bengals (7-4) have won three straight games, but the Chiefs (9-2) have five straight wins of their own, so something’s got to give here.
Cincinnati dispatched a tough foe in the Tennessee Titans on Sunday by a 20-16 score, while Kansas City had a lesser opponent in the injury-riddled Los Angeles Rams, whom it beat 26-10.
DraftKings listed the Bengals as a 1.5-point underdog Friday morning and other sites put the spread at 2, but a bettor backing the Bengals could get them at 2.5 from FanDuel.
DraftKings, Caesars Sportsbook, and BetMGM all offered a +115 moneyline return on Cincinnati. The points total was the highest on the NFL’s weekend slate, set at 53 at many sites, including Barstool Sportsbook, BetRivers, and PointsBet. FanDuel and DraftKings were lower at 52.5.
That high points total has something to do with Joe Burrow, with his second-best 23 passing touchdowns this season, and even more to do with Patrick Mahomes and his league-leading 29 TDs. Mahomes also leads in passing yardage (3,585) with Burrow third best (3,160). FanDuel lists Mahomes as the heavy favorite at -140 to be named the league’s MVP.
Among its player props for the game, DraftKings has Mahomes over/under 308.5 passing yards and Burrow o/u 297.5. For passing touchdowns of over/under 2.5, Mahomes nets a +120 return on the over with Burrow at +160.
It will help Burrow considerably to have Ja’Marr Chase back as a weapon, which is expected after he missed several games with a hip injury.
When the Bengals beat the Chiefs twice last year, including in the AFC Championship game, Chase had 320 receiving yards with four TDs. In his absence, Tee Higgins has performed quite well as the No. 1 receiver, including seven catches for 114 yards against Tennessee, but having Chase back can only help the offense.
The Bengals defense held Titans running back Derrick Henry in check quite well, while allowing Tennessee’s Ryan Tannehill 291 passing yards. That number would be a ho-hum day for Mahomes, who threw for 320 against the Rams.
Watson era begins for Cleveland
It was Jacoby Brissett who led the Browns to a 23-17 win in overtime over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers Sunday to push their record to 4-7, but there was never any doubt Watson would take over as starter as soon as eligible to play after his sexual misconduct suspension.
It’s just coincidence that Watson’s debut comes against his former team, but also fortuitous in that the 1-9-1 Texans have been so weak, staking a strong claim to the top overall selection in next year’s NFL Draft. Their only win came over the Jacksonville Jaguars on Oct. 9, which must seem like years ago to Texans fans.
The Browns were listed as 7-point favorites across the board Friday morning for the game in Houston. DraftKings offered the best moneyline return on Cleveland at -315, and the over/under was as low as 46.5 at FanDuel and as high as 47.5 at DraftKings, BetMGM, Caesars Sportsbook, and elsewhere.
Watson has been able to practice the past two weeks to get in game shape, and the Browns are looking forward to the potential for a strong passing game to complement Nick Chubb, who ran for 116 yards on 26 carries against Tampa Bay.
DraftKings posted the over/under on Watson’s passing yards at 247.5, with increased vig of -120 to bet the over. His passing TDs were set at -145 for over 1.5.
Photo: Denny Medley/USA TODAY