2005 Season NFL Football Past Picks
January 08, 2006
This pick was released to clients on July 25, 2012 at 7:35PM ET.
Pittsburgh at Cincinnati
Sunday 01/08 04:30 PM Eastern
3 units on Cincinnati +3 (-110) (risk 3 to return 5.73) RESULT: LOSS
On paper, this is all Pitsburgh. They have the statistical advantage in every defensive category as well as the rushing game on offense. They steamroll into the playoffs off 4 straight wins and covers winning those games by a combined score of 115-33. In three of those games, they held their opponents to single-digits and one was a 41-0 shutout of Cleveland. They have momentum while Cincinnati apparently does not. The Bengals have lost two straight to limp in and they've given up 74 points in those two losses. If you were concerned with Cincy's defense before those two games, what about now? And, Pittsburgh has won four straight road playoff games and made it to the AFC Championship last year. Now that we've layed out the obvious case for Pittsburgh, let's discuss why we are going to go hard against all of that. In fact, all of that stuff above is precisely why we are going to back the Bengals. You see, history tells us that Cincy is the STRONG play here. First off, they are a playoff home underdog. These situations are rare but blindly playing them would have notched you a 71% win record over the past twenty five years. Think about it - the home team had a better record through 16 games. Why are they the dog? In this case, it has a lot to do with recent performance of the two teams. Pitt's performance is meaningful as they needed to win to get in. But, Cincinnati's performance was meaningless. But, there's more. A lot more. The Bengals fall into a system that backs certain playoff home dogs or small favorites that is a perfect 9-0 ATS since 1984. The latest win came in last year's playoffs when New England was a 1 point favorite to Indianapolis and won 20-3 vs. a red hot Colts team. In addition, teams that allow tons of points in their last two games do very well (76%) in their first playoff games while teams that enter off outstanding defensive efforts do very poorly. The public overreacts to recent events. Also, teams entering off a couple of losses (both SU and ATS) typically do very well in their first game. See a pattern here? It's a contrarian play as everyone and their mother jumps on the "obvious" team. Meanwhile, the home team (that earned that distinction by playing great football) is chomping at the bit to show the world that they should've been installed as the favorite. This is Cincinnati's first real shot in a long time and they are gonna play their hearts out and play above themselves, at least for this game. The home dog is a rare, good bed. But as I said, I don't just play them blindly. In this case, the other circumstances make it a very strong play. Cincinnati plus the points for three stars.