The Buffalo Bills-Cincinnati Bengals game already had a ton on the line. Then the Baltimore Ravens' loss on Sunday night added the possibility for the Bengals to clinch the AFC North with a win on Monday night.
There aren't many games that will shape the playoff picture like Monday night's will. The Bills and Bengals, along with the Kansas City Chiefs, are all in play for the No. 1 seed for the AFC. The Bills are the No. 1 seed if they win out, and they would be two home wins from a Super Bowl. If the Bills lose on Monday night, they're probably going to be the No. 3 seed and that path changes to three games, including probable road games at Cincinnati and Kansas City in back-to-back weeks.
The Bills are a 1.5-point favorite at BetMGM for what should be one of the games of the season. The over/under is 49.5.
Over the course of the season, Buffalo has been the better team. Both offenses are very good but the Bills have the better defense. That balance is the reason they're the current Super Bowl favorite.
The Bengals have been the hotter team though. They haven't lost since Oct. 31. The defense has been better lately. We all know Joe Burrow and the offense are among the NFL's best.
The point spread tells you what you need to know about this game: It's probably going to be close and practically a coin flip by the end. The betting splits tell you that too. Buffalo is getting 52 percent of the money bet on the spread at BetMGM, with 48 percent to the Bengals. Not much separates these two teams and whatever edge the Bills have is lessened by the game being in Cincinnati.
If you believe there's clearly a right side to bet in this game, you're likely fooling yourself. Either one of these teams is capable of winning, which is why the game should be great to watch. It's just not all that easy to bet.
Here's the rest of the sports betting slate for Monday:
Rose Bowl highlights last big bowl day
There's one last big push of bowl games on Monday, before we get the national championship game. There are four bowls on Monday: Mississippi State (-3) vs. Illinois in the ReliaQuest Bowl; Tulane vs. USC (-2.5) in the Cotton Bowl; LSU (-14.5) vs. Purdue in the Citrus Bowl; and then Penn State vs. Utah (-1.5) in the Rose Bowl. Yahoo Sportsbook's Sam Cooper and Nick Bromberg have you covered with their best bets.
A couple of top 25 college hoops teams
There isn't a huge college basketball slate but there are two solid games involving top 25 teams. No. 1 Purdue is an 8.5-point home favorite against a capable Rutgers team, and No. 24 West Virginia is a 2.5-point road underdog at Oklahoma State. The Big 12 is deep and tough this season.
NBA has a big day
The NBA has 11 games on Monday, including a 3 p.m. Eastern tipoff between the Phoenix Suns and New York Knicks. The Knicks, who have been playing well, are a 1.5-point favorite and probably a decent bet. There are a few fun games Monday night and an interesting one is the Denver Nuggets at the Minnesota Timberwolves. The Nuggets beat the Boston Celtics on Sunday night and have the best record in the Western Conference, but get a tough back-to-back assignment on the road. Denver is a small 2.5-point road favorite.
NHL has its Winter Classic
The NHL's Winter Classic is always fun, and it's a great setting this season. The Pittsburgh Penguins will play the Boston Bruins at Fenway Park. The Bruins have been fantastic this season and they're a fairly heavy -175 favorite.
What's the best bet?
I'll give an NFL bet since it's one of the games of the year. I'll stick with Buffalo though this game truly feels like a coin flip. Since it's a huge day across sports let's go with a few others: I like Penn State to cover in the Rose Bowl, a good Rutgers team to cover a big spread at Purdue in basketball and the Timberwolves to beat the Nuggets in Denver's letdown spot.