Let’s make a deal.
I’ll even tell you what is behind each of the three doors you have to choose from.
Behind door number one is a National Football League team that was one of the final teams to fall from the unbeaten ranks this season, which they did last week in a three point loss to the still undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. The team behind door number one also advanced all the way to the AFC Championship Game last year, led after both the first and second quarters, before finally falling to the eventual Super Bowl Champion Kansas City Chiefs.
Behind door number two is a team that hasn’t won a postseason game since they injured Bo Jackson in a divisional playoff contest during the 1990 season. They finished with the worst record in the NFL last season and have won only one game this year. In fact, they have finished in the AFC North Division cellar the past two years and would have had that streak at four years if the Cleveland Browns hadn’t compiled even worse records in 2016 and 2017.
Behind door number three is the point spread winner when these two teams meet on Sunday at Paul Brown Stadium.
The team behind door number one has won five of six games straight-up this season, but has a point spread record of two wins and four losses. The team behind door number two has won only one game this year, but has a point spread record of five wins and two losses.
How did this happen?
The team behind door number two has perhaps the next player to move into a category of quarterback currently manned by Tom Brady, Drew Brees and Patrick Mahomes. He hasn’t yet had the game slow down for him, that is how quarterbacks refer to the pace of NFL action when they first move from college to pro. Because of this, rookie quarterback Joe Burrow has been sacked a league high 28 times.
But, despite losing yards and paying the price of inexperience, Burrow has flashed the signs of greatness to follow. In his first year, because his team is still a young developing group, they are underrated by the public which forces the books to give them generous points on the spread … thus they have four more point spread wins than straight up victories.
Contrast this with the team behind door number one.
That team came into the year overrated based on a furious rush to the postseason last year after breaking from the middle of the standings with the shift at quarterback, Ryan Tannehill, who took over for the now departed Marcus Mariota. That is why they were favored at home last week against the still undefeated Pittsburgh Steelers. And, the fact that the home team overcame a 17 point deficit to pull within a late field goal attempt to send that game to overtime, which was missed, does not offer them the full benefit motivationally of suffering a defeat.
Their attitude this week is, ‘yeah we lost that game at home, but we’ll win this one on the road because of our opponent.’
When a team thinks they can win in this league because of who they are playing, they seldom do, and even less often cover a bloated point spread.
I strongly suggest you pick door number three.
Qoxhi Picks: Cincinnati Bengals (+7) over Tennessee Titans