Tracking line movement across the NFL is a useful tool for any bettor to use. It shows you what kind of action the oddsmakers respect and which action they are willing to ignore. It also gives insight into how some people, who oddsmakers respect enough to move lines, are analyzing a game. At the same time, sharp and influential bettors lose plenty of bets so by no means is line movement predictive.
If you've been trying to use line movement to help your handicap of Sunday's game between the Buffalo Bills and Cincinnati Bengals, it hasn't been particularly useful. In fact, you might be even more lost than you were at the start of your handicapping process.
Line has been all over the place
When betting lines were first released on Sunday night, BetMGM opened with the Buffalo Bills as 3.5-point home favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals. Almost immediately, they took money on Buffalo and by Monday morning, Cincinnati was a 4.5-point underdog.
That one-way action continued with the Bills becoming a 5.5-point favorite for a short while on Monday afternoon. It appeared the market settled with the Bengals getting 5 points overnight on Monday. Early action on Tuesday moved the line in Buffalo's favor again, ballooning the spread back out to 5.5 points.
Then, the buyback on Cincinnati came. By Tuesday night, the line dropped back down to 4.5 points. On Wednesday morning, Cincinnati was just a 4-point underdog. However, that didn't last long. Immediately, the buy sign was back on for Buffalo bettors. Currently at BetMGM, Buffalo is a 5.5-point home favorite over the Bengals.
If that's hard to follow, I don't blame you. Early action came in on Buffalo. Then, the market adjusted heavily in favor of Cincinnati. Once that happened, almost instantly the market went right back to where it originally was with Buffalo. That's not common. These lines are usually extremely sharp, especially in the playoffs. We don't see lines bouncing around by nearly 2 points every day.
Bengals' offensive line issues are the concern
The Cincinnati Bengals' offensive line was their main concern last season and was probably the main reason why they couldn't complete the job and win the Super Bowl. They invested heavily in the offensive line in the offseason and turned it into a strength. They struggled for the first few games, but for the second half of the season, they did a good job keeping Joe Burrow clean.
Unfortunately for Cincinnati, despite their best efforts, the offensive line is once again an issue. In Week 16, La'El Collins tore his ACL. In Week 18, Alex Cappa suffered an ankle injury. Last week in the wild-card round, Jonah Williams dislocated his kneecap. All three starting offensive linemen are not expected to play this weekend.
Obviously, the main concern becomes Cincinnati's ability to keep Burrow clean and giving him enough time to throw against what is a very solid Buffalo defense. That becomes a much harder task with three backups starting. It might explain why there's been some solid Bills support from bettors early in the week.
These teams were scheduled to meet in Week 17 in Cincinnati. The Bengals were 2.5-point home underdogs. That game was canceled after Damar Hamlin suffered a cardiac arrest on the field. Based on the current odds for Sunday's game, oddsmakers are only assigning 3 points for the flip in venue.