In every sport, there is at least one franchise that consistently excels in the regular season but goes off a proverbial cliff when the playoffs roll around. In hockey, it’s the Washington Capitals. In basketball, it’s the Los Angeles Clippers. In baseball, it’s the Los Angeles Dodgers. In the NFL, it’s the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Bengals, or “Bungles” as they’re sometimes known as, went 52-27-1 SU from 2011 to 2015 and made the postseason every year. They have an 0-5 record for their troubles. Cincinnati was brutal in 2016, missing the playoffs altogether thanks to a 6-9-1 record.
While some pundits were calling for a rebuild of a roster that’s seemingly plateaued, the front office isn’t throwing in the towel just yet. Health was a major issue for the team last season, as No. 1 wide receiver A.J. Green and the team’s top tight end, Tyler Eifert, missed six games. As a result, longtime signal-caller Andy Dalton threw a career-low 18 touchdowns.
Cincy’s draft was promising, as speedy wideout John Ross (whose 4.22 broke the combine record), defensive lineman Jordan Willis, linebacker Jordan Evans, safety Brandon Wilson and running back Joe Mixon were brought into the fold. The Bengals were relatively young to begin with, but the aforementioned group will help spearhead a youth movement that will be key in the squad’s success in the coming years.
Here’s my betting breakdown for the Bengals:
Super Bowl +5000
The Bengals are tied for the 10th-worst odds in the NFL to win the Super Bowl, so clearly oddsmakers aren’t expecting Marvin Lewis’ club to make the leap into the upper echelon of the league. There are worse long shots on the board (can I interest you in Jacksonville +10000?), but don’t bet the farm on this one.
OVER/UNDER Win Total 8.5
Prior to last year’s forgettable record, Cincinnati posted seasons of 9-7, 10-6, 11-5, 10-5-1 and 12-4 from 2011 to 2015. The 2017 edition of the Bengals is largely the same group from that span, so if Dalton can get back on track and his offensive weapons stay healthy for once, nine wins is a very achievable goal.
Odds to make the playoffs +150
Making the playoffs is not a problem for Cincinnati, it’s winning once they’re there that’s served as the real roadblock. The Bengals haven’t won a postseason contest since 1990. NINETEEN NINETY! I was crying in my crib and soiling my diaper when this franchise last won a game on the biggest stage. I’m not expecting another down year like last season, so taking them on a flier at +150 isn’t the worst idea I’ve ever heard. I can’t promise you they won’t soil their own diapers once they get there, though.
Most regular-season receiving touchdowns A.J. Green +2500
Green was quietly having one of his best seasons before a hamstring injury cost him the final six games of the year, as the veteran led the league in yards per game prior to getting sidelined. He notched only four touchdowns in 2016 but had double-digit touchdown counts in three of his previous five seasons, including 1,297 yards in 2015. Durability is starting to look like an issue with him, but I think he’s being a bit undervalued here at +2500.
Odds as of August 27 at [custom:bodog-link]
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