Cincinnati Bengals Season Over/Under Wins
Recommendation: Over 8.5 +140 @ The Greek
Picking up where Teddy Covers left off yesterday with his discussion on How to Handicap NFL Futures, I’m going to zero in specifically on the Cincinnati Bengals. Obviously the season win totals are set on a scale of about 20 percent team personnel and 80 percent schedule which opens up an abundance of variables. Seasons rarely play out as cut and dry as glancing down a schedule in late June and saying “they should win this game” and “they should lose that game”. I’m a proponent of three things: (1) Teams with existing talent from their previous season that upgraded during this offseason, (2) Teams that have diversity on offense and defense, and (3) Teams that got a brief taste of playoff football and are supremely hungry to for more. I form my opinion on teams that have those characteristics and then check the odds for any which might hold betting value.
The current number of 8.5 Over +140 (thegreek.com) leads me directly to a firm stance on Cincinnati. It’s truly amazing to me how overlooked this team is right now. The AFC bandwagons of Baltimore, the New York Jets and New England have earned most of the attention. All three of teams are listed at 9.5 with vigs on the Over of -150, -105 and -120 respectively. Do the schedules and the personnel warrant those three teams being one full game better? I don’t see it since each plays in a four-team division featuring three playoff contenders. And while the AFC East plays the NFL Central, the Bengals and Ravens play the NFC South. All four of these teams do play one another and the Bengals are on the road for three of the five games but proved to be a solid road team last year at 4-4.
From the personnel angle, I fully expect quarterback Carson Palmer to have a much improved campaign. With a season under his belt following 2008’s injury, Palmer should be primed to make a significant climb up the statistical ladder. The offseason addition of wide receiver Antonio Bryant is easily the equal to – in my estimation more – Baltimore’s widely acknowledged acquisition of wide receiver Anquan Boldin. The Bengals commitment to throw the ball more effectively this year should be accomplished due to the collection of speed and talent they possess in the receiving corps. First round draft choice Jermaine Gresham combined with 2009 third round choice Chase Coffman (IR last year) makes the tight end position a threat. The offensive line is likely to be even better at run blocking and pass protecting.
Defensively, Cincinnati returns all 11 starters including the stellar cornerback tandem of Leon Hall and Jonathan Joseph. The front four welcomes back defensive end Antwan Odom (missed final 10 games with Achilles injury last year) and this unit is very adept at stuffing the run and pressuring the quarterback. Coordinator Mike Zimmer’s aggressive philosophy led the Bengals to a lofty No. 4 NFL total defense ranking last season and now they’re firmly entrenched in the system. Special teams return and coverage units also look to be above average this year. The health of Palmer and replacing kicker Shayne Graham are the only real caution signs for this team. If those go well, Cincinnati will get up and Over the 8.5 win hurdle yielding a very nice dividend.