Jason Bridge-USA TODAY Sports
NFL Wild Card odds watchers know that Cincinnati is hot while Houston is not. The point spread in the Bengals vs. Texans game reflects this as the line was just 4.5 points as of midweek, according to Odds Shark.
Cincinnati was a 4.5-point road underdog on the Wild Card odds menu at most shops tracked by OddsShark.com and was attracting lots of wagering interest with their hot streak.
The Cincinnati Bengals looked to be down and out with a 3-5 SU and 2-5-1 ATS record over their first eight games. But over the last eight, Cincinnati strung together and impressive 7-1 SU and ATS record, fueled by an extremely consistent defense that allowed only 12.75 points per game over that stretch and no more than 20 points in any game.
Unsurprisingly, the total went UNDER in seven of those eight games.
Cincy has flopped in recent playoff games (0-4 SU & ATS), but brings a 6-1 SU & ATS mark in its past seven road games and a 4-0 ATS record in its past four games as a road underdog.
The Houston Texans had a December to forget, finishing the season 1-3 SU and ATS with three double-digit losses after going 11-1 SU and 8-4 ATS over its first 12 games. The skid saw Houston fall from the top spot in the AFC to needing to play in the Wild Card round as the three-seed.
Matt Schaub was not sharp over the four-game slump, throwing just one touchdown pass and three interceptions.
Houston is 4-0 SU and ATS in its last five games against Cincinnati, including last year's 31-10 win in the playoffs as a four-point home favorite; and that one was without Schaub, who was out with a foot injury.
The question at this point looks to be which version of the Houston Texans is going to show up, the one that was outscored 110-65 over its last four games, or the one that looked dominant throughout most of the season?
While the start of the playoffs should kick-start Houston's play a bit, it may not matter with the way the Bengals are playing. With a solid offense and an outstanding defense, Cincinnati has topped some strong teams over the last two months, and last year's loss here should only serve as added motivation.
Whether they win outright or just keep it close, the Bengals should make good use of those 4.5 points.
Wild Card Pick: Cincinnati +4.5 (courtesy of PickShark.com)