NFL Picks Week 15: Cincinnati Bengals vs. St. Louis Rams

Cincinnati Bengals at St. Louis Rams
Sunday, 12/18/11, 1:00 PM EST, TV:  CBS
Opening Point Spread:  Cincinnati -6.5
Current Betting Line:  Cincinnati -6.5
Opening Total:  38.5
Current Total:  40.5
Odds Courtesy of Bookmaker

Cincinnati Bengals RB Cedric Benson is the key to Sunday's game

Cincinnati is now on the outside looking in the AFC playoff race after dropping four of five games, which includes a 20-19 setback to the Houston Texans as 2.5-point home favorites.  “We’ve still got opportunities and we’ve got to take advantage of them,” commented Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis.  Playing inside a dome hasn’t been the best situation for the franchise, posting a 24-36-1 all-time mark, while going 1-2 ATS over the last two-plus years in that particular situation.  Cincinnati is 4-14 ATS as a favorite over the last two-plus seasons, including a 1-7 ATS mark when laying 3.5 to 9.5 points in that time frame.

The Bengals offense has produced only one touchdown in each of the last two games and rookie quarterback Andy Dalton has gone a combined 27 of 52 for 324 yards in those contests.  Cincinnati desperately needs running back Cedric Benson to maintain his focus for the entire game, as he rushed for 92 yards on 13 carries in the first half last week, only to gain minus-one yard in the final 30 minutes.  On the defensive side of the ball, the team allowed Texans rookie T.J. Yates to throw 300 yards in just his second career start.

St. Louis welcomes in Cincinnati for the first time since the 2003 season and will look to even up the all-time series in its 12th overall meeting.  The Rams have lost four consecutive games due to scoring just 40 combined points over that time frame, which includes a 30-13 loss to the Seattle Seahawks as nine-point road underdogs on Monday Night Football.  “There are a lot of things we have to overcome, but we’ve got to overcome them,” commented Rams head coach Steve Spagnuolo.  St. Louis is 0-4 ATS as an underdog of 3.5 to 9.5 points this year.

The Rams doesn’t anticipate having starting quarterback Sam Bradford in this contest after being very sore Tuesday following the prime-time event.  He threw for 193 passing yards versus the Seahawks, but completed just 10 of 27 passes and finished with a 49.9 passer rating.  St. Louis will need to get ready to battle in the trenches to remain competitive against a physical team, ranking last in the NFL in allowing 156.8 rushing yards per game.

Bettors will likely back the Rams due to their 4-0 ATS mark in the last four meetings, while the Bengals have failed to cover five straight games as road favorites of 3.5 to 10 points.

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