Ohioans’ First Legal MNF Bet Couldn’t Be Any More Tantalizing

Bengals are slight underdogs vs. Bills in special prime-time matchup
joe burrow passing

Browns fans who started their legal betting in Ohio by backing their favorite team were rewarded Sunday, and now Bengals followers have their chance.

Cincinnati is a slight underdog at home against the Buffalo Bills on Monday Night Football, just as Cleveland was on the road before beating the Washington Commanders 24-10.

Monday night’s contest is a big game for bettors, but also for all football fans across the country, as it brings a prime-time matchup of two of the NFL’s hottest teams, which are vying along with the Kansas City Chiefs for the AFC’s top seed and playoff bye. The game also features two of the NFL’s top quarterbacks in Joe Burrow and Josh Allen, who have never taken the field against one another previously.

Long-awaited legal betting started online and in person Sunday morning in Ohio. In addition to taking wagers on the spread that gives the Bengals 1 to 1.5 points, more than a dozen digital sportsbooks provide wide-ranging options to bet on the moneyline, points total, player performance props, and much more.

As in any newly launched state, bettors would be wise to check multiple sites for special welcome offers, odds boosts, and other bonuses dangled by the majority of operators in competing to attract new customers. Often, the best enticements are available to accompany a customer’s very first bet, so it’s good to study promotions advertised on each site before starting to wager.

Both offenses have been fired up

The Bengals (11-4) come into the 8:30 p.m. home game riding a seven-game winning streak, including a road win on Christmas Eve over the New England Patriots, 22-18.

The Bills (12-3), currently the top seed and Super Bowl favorite, have reeled off six straight wins themselves, including a 35-13 thumping of the Chicago Bears on Dec. 24.

Any Ohioan looking to back the Bengals as one of their first legal bets should ignore sites giving them 1 point if they can get 1.5 points, which was available as of Sunday from FanDuel and Barstool Sportsbook, among others (though with vig slightly above the standard -110).

By scouring sites, it was also possible to find a small plus price to bet on the Bengals moneyline, such as the +106 offered by BetRivers. The over/under on the points total appeared to be a consensus 49.5 across the board, reflecting the two teams’ strong offenses.

During their lengthy respective win streaks, Cincinnati has been averaging 29.2 points scored and Buffalo 28.3.

The Bengals, who finish the season next week hosting the Baltimore Ravens, have the best against-the-spread record in the league this year at 12-3, compared to the Bills’ 6-8-1.

Burrow has trailed only Patrick Mahomes in passing yardage and TD throws this season, with Allen close behind. In their most recent games, however, Burrow threw for more than twice as many yards (375 to 172) as Allen. For passing props Monday night, DraftKings lists Burrow’s yardage at over/under 281.5 and Allen at o/u 252.5.

Burrow has more bountiful receiving options in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd. While the Bills’ Stefon Diggs is extremely talented, his receiving totals have dropped off in recent weeks. Against the Bears, he caught just two passes for 26 yards.

Part of the explanation for those numbers lies in how the Bills rushed for 254 yards against Chicago. The Bengals have been seventh best in the league at preventing rushing yardage, and just how well the defense contains Devin Singletary, James Cook, and Allen himself may end up mattering as much to the success of Bengals backers’ bets as the performance of the star QBs.

By the way, it wasn’t Chase or Higgins but a less prominent Bengals receiver, Trenton Irwin, who caught two TD passes from Burrow in the last game. To illustrate the value of line-shopping for all types of bets, DraftKings listed a return of +500 Sunday for a bet on Irwin to score at least one touchdown in the game, while BetMGM offered only +290.

Photo: David Butler II/USA TODAY


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