NFL line watch: Jump on the Bengals now

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US PRESSWIRE

Each week during the pro football season, Covers Expert Art Aronson of AAA Sports looks at the NFL odds and tells you which spread to bet now, which one to bet later and and which total to watch as the week plays out.

Game to bet on now

Denver at Cincinnati (+3.5)

All decent teams deserve a long look when they get points playing at home, and the half-point here is pretty enticing. The public is hammering the Broncos 3-1 in early betting, but the sharps might be planning a late play on the Bengals. And why not? Cincinnati has won four of five and is right in the thick of a crazy race in the AFC North, and the Bengals need this one badly to set up a potential winner-take-all battle with Pittsburgh in Week 17. Denver has won four in a row of its own, but fissures are starting to show in an offense that has been south of 30 points in three straight games. Take the points now on this one. PS — The long-term weather forecast calls for light snow and temps in the low 30s, and we know how much Peyton Manning likes bad weather.
 
Game to wait on

New York Giants at St. Louis (-5)

The Rams are 6-8 and out and their playoff chances were burned at the stake when QB Sam Bradford ‘s ACL was torn last August, but what the St. Louis defense has done since Thanksgiving is nothing short of remarkable – 12 straight quarters without giving up a touchdown. The Giants have won a couple in a row against weak competition (Tennessee, Washington), but New York has also long since cashed in its chips on this season. New York has not beaten a decent defensive team all season, though. Figuring that New York money through the middle of the week might knock this number down a half-point or so, so if you like the Rams you might find -4.5 later on.
 
Total to watch

New England at New York Jets (47)

This is a playoff game for the Jets, who need at minimum a competitive game to have even a puncher’s chance of bringing fun-loving Rex Ryan back as coach, but even a win probably won’t get it done. The Jets have had success in the past clogging the middle against Brady’s receivers and bringing up-the-middle pressure, and the Patriots don’t do too much outside the numbers. Plus, NE likes its ground game now with LeGarrette Blount and Jonas Gray. Another factor in play is New England’s tendency to start slow on the road (Green Bay, San Diego), resulting in scoring in the low 20s. The Under is worth a look here.

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