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NFL forecast: Ride hot hand of Bengals over Chargers

Quarterbacks Joe Burrow and Justin Herbert, two of the top picks in the 2020 NFL draft, have their teams in playoff position entering Sunday’s game in Cincinnati.

Burrow’s Bengals (7-4) are 3-point favorites over Herbert’s Chargers (6-5).

Both teams started the season strong before faltering. But Cincinnati is back on track, while the Chargers are still struggling.

The Bengals were 5-2 when they were upset by the Jets as double-digit favorites, followed by a blowout home loss to the Browns before their bye week.

Cincinnati bounced back to whip the Raiders and Steelers by a combined 73-23 score the past two weeks.

Los Angeles started 4-1 but has lost four of its past six games, including last week’s 28-13 defeat at Denver.

While Burrow (2,835 passing yards, 22 touchdowns, 12 interceptions) and Herbert (3,230-24-10) have played well, this game could be decided by the running game and defense.

The Bengals averaged 178.5 rushing yards in their past two games, and the Chargers have the NFL’s worst rushing defense, giving up 145.3 yards per game.

Cincinnati is clicking on both sides of the ball, ranking sixth in the NFL in scoring (28.1 ppg) and sixth in scoring defense (20.5 ppga). We’ll back the hotter team at home.

Here are four more plays (home team in CAPS):

Colts (-10) over TEXANS: Indianapolis had won and covered five of six games before blowing a 24-14 halftime lead in last week’s 38-31 loss to Tampa Bay. Still in the playoff hunt at 6-6, the Colts should be focused against a team it has owned in recent years in Houston. Indianapolis beat the Texans 31-3 on Oct. 17, has won and covered six of the past seven meetings and is 8-0-1 ATS in its past nine trips to Houston. The Texans are 2-9 and coming off a 21-14 home loss to the 3-8 Jets.

STEELERS (+4½) over Ravens: Pittsburgh coach Mike Tomlin has never finished with a losing record in 14 seasons as Steelers coach. That mark is in jeopardy with Pittsburgh at 5-5-1. Baltimore has the No. 1 seed in the AFC but has not been impressive, as Lamar Jackson threw four interceptions in last week’s 16-10 win over Cleveland. The underdog has covered the past seven meetings in the series, and the Steelers are an NFL-best 19-6 ATS in their past 25 games getting points.

49ers (-3) over SEAHAWKS: These NFC West rivals are headed in opposite directions. Seattle (3-8) has dropped three straight games while scoring a total of 28 points and is working on a short week after Monday’s 17-15 loss at Washington. San Francisco (6-5) has won and covered three games in a row and four of five while scoring 30 points or more in each win. The Niners have allowed only 15.3 points per game during their three-game win streak.

Patriots (+2½) over BILLS: Buffalo has been inconsistent, alternating wins and losses in its past seven games, with the past two losses 9-6 to the Jaguars and 41-15 to the Colts. New England has won and covered six straight games. The Patriots are on a 6-1 ATS run at Buffalo and riding a 19-8 cover streak as underdogs.

Last week: 4-1

Season: 32-28

Contact reporter Todd Dewey at tdewey@reviewjournal.com. Follow @tdewey33 on Twitter.

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