Today's Free Picks for
Posted at 11:00 AM EST. Odds subject to change.
Cincinnati +5 over San Francisco
4:25 PM EST. Three weeks ago, after dominating Dallas at home, San Francisco looked like they were clearly one of the best teams if not the best team in the league. Since then it's been a dramatic shift. Getting upset by Cleveland in a sloppy defensive-game was shocking enough, but the Niners suffered another defeat last Monday night in Minnesota, too. Along the way they've incurred multiple injuries to key starters, and this Sunday their dynamic QB, who was 11-0 as a Niner before their recent road trip, is officially out as he remains in concussion protocol.
After an impressive training camp, Sam Darnold will go under center this Sunday. Kyle Shanahan has expressed the utmost confidence in Darnold, who beat out Trey Lance before the season for the #2 role, but we have our doubts. Darnold will also be without Deebo Samuel, who remains sidelined until at least Week 9, and All-Pro left tackle Trent Williams hasn't practiced this week and remains questionable to suit up Sunday.
After a rough 1-3 start to the season, Joe Burrow the Bengals have won their last two games and are looking to create the same magic they have in previous seasons after their bye-week. Joe Burrow's ankle injury is no longer an issue and a healthy Bengals' roster has proven it can defeat the NFL's best. In the 2021 and 2022 seasons they went on long winning streaks to ascend to the AFC playoffs. It's the mark of a great team - the ability to find a second gear, no matter the circumstances, and find ways to overcome the toughest situations. Following their bye-week, Cincinnati has one of the toughest remaining schedules in the league, starting with Sunday's visit to Levi's Stadium.
This line has moved 2+ points in favor of the visiting Bengals since oddsmakers' got the news of Purdy's injury. Normally that's a situation where we might want to look at the downgraded team - in this case it’s San Francisco. Still, a spread of over a field goal feels momentous against a team as scrappy and capable as Cincinnati.
The Bengals are healthy and rounding into form at the right time. Burrow's ankle is clearly no issue anymore, throwing 60-81 for 5 touchdowns in his last two contests. His ability to shimmy in the pocket and extend plays like the Joey-B we know is noticeable. Even better, Burrow and his star receiver Ja'Marr Chase are on the same page again. When in-sync, the duo is damn-near unstoppable. Chase has caught 21 balls for 272 yards and 3 TDs in their previous two games. The Bengals' defense appears to be regressing back to its true self, too. A unit predicated on big plays and a bend-don't-break mentality (47.83% red-zone rate, 9th overall), they've forced 7 sacks and 5 turnovers in their last two wins.
This line could be Bengals +2 and we'd still take it. Brock Purdy or Sam Darnold or Joe Montana, we could care less who's throwing for the home-town Niners. We're not back-peddling or saying San Francisco isn't one of the elites, they are, but two large season-long sample sizes of Cincinnati rising to the occasion in these spots is enough evidence for us. The Niners will be crafty and more desperate to win, no one’s saying it’ll be easy, but we’re talking about two top-tier teams in an important battle and only one of them is getting extra points. That means there’s only one way to look.
Cincinnati +5 -104 (Risking 2.10 units - To Win: 2.02)