• Bet Bengals WR Tee Higgins o5.5 receptions: With the most difficult CB matchup in the slot vs Greg Newsome, expect Tyler Boyd to be an afterthought while Higgins commands at least a 25% target share.
• Higgins is the likely benefactor of Ja'Marr Chase's absence, with a similar route profile and nearly identical aDOT.
• Live-bet opportunity: Waiting on Bengals to drop below -3 live is our preferred approach to betting game market.
Last updated: Oct. 31, 2:00 p.m.
Estimated reading time: 5 mins
• Our prime-time previews pull all the key modeling numbers and simulated outcomes from PFF’s betting tools, including PFF NFL Greenline and the Player Props tool, which use top-down machine learning models backed by PFF’s exclusive data to derive value when compared to the betting market.
The lead into Monday saw some ping-pong movement on the spread, after a lookahead number between -1.5 to -2.5, bumped out to -3.5 early in the week. The Ja’Marr Chase injury situation saw a retread down to -3, but we have added the hook back to the field goal differential as we head toward kickoff.
• Browns' secondary is questionable at best: Denzel Ward already has been ruled out with a concussion, and Greedy Williams got in one limited practice after sitting on the game status report all week with an illness. Greg Newsome II continues to deal with a torso injury that limited him all week in practice. This unit is close to a cluster situation and needs to stay healthy throughout the matchup tonight.
• A below-average (19th) coverage unit: Will still be susceptible to a Bengals passing attack that ranks third in EPA per dropback over the past three weeks. Although a lot of the success came through Ja’Marr Chase, Tyler Boyd and Tee Higgins have eight explosive plays combined in that span.
• Cincinnati better off conservative?:The interesting wrinkle in this matchup is that a conservative game plan from Zac Taylor and Brian Callahan could actually benefit the Bengals. The Browns have the 30th-ranked run defense through seven weeks of the season. Cincinnati ranks 23rd in rush grade and has dramatically changed its pass rate over expectation during the recent offensive surge. An early-down focus on the passing game should allow for numerous short-down situations — and conversions — through the running game.
• The one thing that can slow this Bengals offense on Monday night: Pressure situations resulting in big losses on early downs. If that happens early, we could see the spread drop below the key number three, making the perfect in-game buying opportunity. We might miss the only playable number on the Bengals' side, but patience could be rewarded with a cover if they end up winning by a field goal at the end. This in-game approach is my preferred way of playing a game market on Monday night.
Live bet pending: Bengals, if they drop to -2.5 (-110)
Live-bet Gameplan: Playable to -2.5 (-115)
Bet Tee Higgins — Over 5.5 Receptions (110 BetMGM)
Bet Gameplan: Playable to to 5.5 (-120)
Both holdover wide receivers for the Bengals have seen some correction up without the services of Ja’Marr Chase, but there’s a few reasons why Higgins should be the likely benefactor of the increased volume:
• Higgins and Chase run a similar profile of routes and are very much interchangeable as parts in this offense: Boyd runs 86% of his routes from the slot, with Higgins and Chase next to each other at 21.5% and 25.6%. Their aDot is also almost the exact same, with Boyd dominating more underneath on this recent three-game stretch.
• With the most difficult matchup against Greg Newsome II in the slot: expect Boyd to turn into an afterthought as Higgins hits at least a 25% target share. If this one stays close throughout, it will be more than enough volume for Higgins to go over this prop number.
Bet Samaje Perine — Over 24.5 Rushing/Receiving Yards -110 BetMGM
Bet Gameplan: Playable to 25.5 (-115)
• If the Bengals pivot and prioritize more underneath-depth targets: Perine should be the main benefactor. He continues to play at least 25% of the offensive snaps, running a route on 30% of dropbacks. If Boyd is dealing with the most difficult matchup, or if Cincinnati's outside receivers are struggling to separate, Perine could be even more open underneath.
• Perine opened at 18.5 and dropped to 17.5 in Week 6: And though he failed to go over, making this number look slightly inflated, Perine's usage will be key against a defense that relies heavily on its pass rush. The Bengals should have a successful screen play to help Perine easily clear this number.
DERIVATIVE BETS & SAME-GAME PARLAY
• Why not both?: Sometimes when a significant injury happens to a pass-catching unit, agonizing over what secondary option to target can be the entirely wrong approach. Especially if the passing volume holds, often both options can be underpriced given the newfound usage.
• That is the expectation from PFF’s player props tool: Which also fits the narrative of how our game-level models project this matchup to play out. If it is a hotly-contested AFC North showdown, we should see the Browns try to establish the run, while the Bengals take advantage of a banged-up secondary. Cincinnati has passed the football more than 14% over expectation the past three weeks and should continue to press the passing volume as its biggest advantage in this matchup.
• Scripted first-option opportunities for Boyd and Higgins: If those come through both should be well on their way to smashing modest reception prop numbers. Pressing on some alternate numbers at bigger odds looks like one of the best two-leg parlays to play on Monday night.
BetMGM OGP Build (+2800)
• Tee Higgins 9+ Receptions
• Tyler Boyd 9+ Receptions
Ben's primetime preview went 2-2 Sunday night, bringing his season record in this space to 40-50 (-2.21).