The Cincinnati Bengals have had a really nice run over the last four NFL seasons, but a tough schedule and talented division opponents could mean that gravity will catch up with this team in 2015.
Let’s look at who the Bengals took in the 2015 NFL Draft, some Free Agent pickups, some Betting Trends and then let’s make some picks from some familiar markets in the Futures Book and see if we can’t give you readers a little vision and try to help you win a little money.
Cincinnati Bengals: No Playoffs For You
The Cincinnati Bengals (40/1 to win Super Bowl, Stan James) and highly respected 13th-year Head Coach Marvin Lewis (40/1, AP NFL Coach of the Year, 5Dimes) may have peaked last season—like the Detroit Lions—as replicating their 10-5-1 Regular Season mark (8-7-1 ATS) could be very difficult and the Bengals may possibly be on the downswing. Cincinnati did make the Postseason in 2014, where it promptly lost to QB Andrew Luck and the Indianapolis Colts, 26-10 as 3½-point underdogs. (Yes, the spread 3½ points. And yes, it’s too late to bet now.) And because Cincinnati (16/1 to win AFC, BetVictor) calls the AFC North—maybe the toughest division in the NFL—home, Life could be very hard this season. Last year, three teams from the division finished with double-digit Wins—these Bengals (10-5-1), the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-5) and the Baltimore Ravens (10-6)—and all three made the Playoffs. But that’s not likely to happen again this year and the Bengals (+275 to win AFC North, William Hill) may pay the regression price. Besides those 6 divisional tilts against the Steelers, Ravens and Browns, Lewis & Company as well as games against the Broncos (12-5 overall) in Denver, the Arizona Cardinals (11-6) in Glendale, the San Francisco 49ers (8-8) in Santa Clara, the San Diego Chargers (9-7), the NFC champion Seattle Seahawks (14-5) and the Houston Texans (9-7). Now that’s a tough schedule, Bubba. Thank God for the Cleveland Browns (7-9, L5), right? Amen.
On offense, the Bengals are led by QB Andy Dalton (50/1 to win Regular Season MVP, 5Dimes), and he has a number of extremely nice skill position players with which to work including star WR AJ Green (12/1 Receiving Yards leader, 5Dimes), WR Marvin Jones (51 receptions, 712 yards, 10 TDs), WR Mohamed Sanu, RB Jeremy Hill and RB Giovani Bernard. Georgia product Green (69 receptions, 1,041 yards, 6 TDs) is one of the game’s best, and RB Hill (222 rushes, 1,124 yards, 9 TDs) has emerged into a very valuable back. But this team needs to avoid Injuries at all costs this year with the brutal schedule and if Cincinnati (365 PF-344 PA) doesn’t start playing a little better Defense—the Bengals were tied for 16th in the NFL last season in Turnover Differential with a +0 (26 takeaways - 26 Giveaways =)—then they will definitely fall back to the .500 mark although one can’t argue with the success and steady growth this team has shown over the L4 seasons (overall records): 2011: 9-8; 2012: 10-7; 2013: 11-6; 2014: 10-6-1. Just ask Chicago Bears fans or Miami Dolphins fans or San Francisco 49ers fans if they would take those records over their last four respective seasons.
The Bengals (22 PF-22 PA) have improved enough on defense to be a threat and become a team that can/could win 10 games a season, but as long as Baltimore and Pittsburgh are as good as they both are and are in the division, making the playoffs and having those great seasons will be hard for Cincinnati. The city of Cincinnati itself has its own expectations, but this franchise still hasn’t found a hasn’t to win a Super Bowl, while the Steelers (6) and Ravens (2) have won 8 and the cities of Pittsburgh and Baltimore expect championships once in awhile from their professional football teams. And then there’s the Head Coaches. Lewis is a gen but Harbaugh is a Harbaugh and Tomlin has Lombardi blood and probably screams at the paperboy when the paper partially lands in the grass. At QB, the Bengals have Andy Dalton. Little playoff experience. At QB the Steelers and Ravens have Ben Roethlisberger and Joe Flacco, respectively, two guys who have won and probably kissed the Lombardi Trophy. At RB, the Bengals have two nice runners in Hill and Bernard but Pittsburgh has Le’Veon Bell and now DeAngelo Williams (Free Agent, Panthers) while the Ravens have Justin Forsett and Lorenzo Taliaferro. Maybe only at WR (Green, Jones, Sanu) do the Bengals have an edge, but with the Steelers having All-Pro stud Antonio Brown and the Ravens having future Hall of Famer Steve Smith, it’s still not that big of an edge. The point here is that the cities, fanbases, Head Coaches and QBs for the Steelers and Ravens have higher expectations and more valuable Playoff experience than do the Bengals. And quite simply, Pittsburgh and Baltimore may just be a little bit better than Cincinnati this time around, with Weeks 3 through 11 being an awfully hard stretch of schedule for the Bengals.
Bengals QB Depth: Andy Dalton—AJ McCarron—Josh Johnson—Keith Wenning
Who’s New and Could Have an Impact? Free Agent LB AJ Hawk (Packers), Free Agent DL Michael Johnson (Buccaneers), Free Agent DL Pat Sims (Raiders), Free Agent CB Brandon Ghee (Titans), Rookie OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M), Rookie OT Jake Fisher (Oregon), Rookie TE Tyler Kroft (Rutgers), Rookie OLB Paul Dawson (TCU), Rookie S Josh Shaw (USC), Rookie DT Marcus Hardison (Arizona State), Rookie TE CJ Uzomah (Auburn), Rookie S Derron Smith (Fresno State), Rookie WR Mario Alford (West Virginia)
Who’s Gone From Roster? DE Robert Geathers (Free Agent), WR Greg Little (Free Agent)
Possible Losses on Schedule: Week 2: Chargers; Week 3: @ Ravens; Week 4: Chiefs; Week 5: Seahawks; Week 6: @ Bills; Week 8: Steelers; Week 10 Texans; Week 11: @ Cardinals; Week 12: Rams; Week 13: @ Browns; Week 14: Steelers; Week 15: @ 49ers; Week 16: @ Broncos; Week 17: Ravens
Some Good Potential Betting Spots in Regular Season: Fading the Bengals as opposed to backing the Bengals seems to be the better path in the 2015 NFL Regular Season, although there are many recent and relevant Trends which support backing Cincinnati on this schedule and taking the Bengals at Home in Week 9 against their intrastate-rival, the Cleveland Browns (Bengals -6½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year) may be a good spot on the schedule to do so with it being a sandwich game between tough opponents in Weeks 8 (at Steelers) and 10 (vs Texans at Home; Bengals -6½, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook, NFL Games of the Year). And betting against the Bengals in those two games seems Wise this season and the Trends support it with Cincinnati 1-4 ATS L5 at Heinz Field in Pittsburgh and 1-3 ATS L4 vs the Texans at Home and 1-6 ATS L7 against Houston overall. Also, another good spot to possibly bet against the Bengals comes earlier in the season in Week 6 at the Buffalo Bills. Although Cincinnati may suffer no Weather Disadvantage in Buffalo in mid October (18th), the Bengals are just 2-6 ATS L8 trips here and 2-10 ATS L12 over against Buffalo, so, this team really does have their number.
Sarcastic Cincinnati Bengals Super Bowl Matchup and Odds to Make You Scoff: Cincinnati Bengals vs. New York Giants +38,000 (380/1, 5Dimes)
Any Good Bengals Futures Bets Now? The Bengals Regular Season Team Win Total is posted at 8½ (Over and Under -110, Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook), and because of the schedule they have and because they may experience some regression and be on the downswing in 2015 after going 10-5-1 last season, taking the Under seems the best bet as a .500 season and an 8-8 record could be in the works. Weeks 3 through 11 could be very rough on the Bengals, and Cincinnati closes the schedule at Denver in Week 16 followed by QB Joe Flacco and the gritty Ravens at Home at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati in what could be a crucial game both for the AFC North standings as well as the AFC Playoffs themselves. Or, Cincy may already be well out of it by then.
Recent Relevant Trends: Bengals 6-2 ATS L8 vs Raiders but 1-6 ATS L7 at Oakland; Bengals 5-2-1 ATS L8 vs 49ers, 5-1 ATS L6 at Home; Bengals 4-1 ATS L5 vs Ravens, 5-1 ATS L6 at Home; Bengals 4-1-1 ATS L6 vs Seahawks but 1-3 ATS L4 at Home; Bengals 4-1 ATS L5 vs Chargers; Bengals 2-10 L12 vs Bills, 2-6 ATS L8 on Road at Buffalo; Bengals 0-3 ATS L3 vs Steelers, 1-4 ATS L5 at Home; Bengals 1-6 ATS L7 vs Texans, 1-3 ATS L4 at Home; Bengals 0-3 ATS L3 vs Cardinals; Bengals 0-4-1 ATS L5 vs Rams, 1-3 ATS L4 at Home
Players to Watch: RB Jeremy Hill, WR AJ Green, WR Marvin Jones, RB Giovani Bernard, QB Andy Dalton, WR Mohamed Sanu, WR/KR Brandon Tate, TE Tyler Eifert, C Clint Boling, OT Eric Winston, LB Rey Maualuga, LB Vontaze Burfict, CB Leon Hall, CB Adam Jones, Rookie OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Texas A&M), Rookie OT Jake Fisher (Oregon), Rookie TE Tyler Kroft (Rutgers), Rookie OLB Paul Dawson (TCU), Rookie S Josh Shaw (USC), Rookie DT Marcus Hardison (Arizona State), Rookie TE CJ Uzomah (Auburn), Rookie S Derron Smith (Fresno State), Rookie WR Mario Alford (West Virginia), WR Denarius Moore, K Mike Nugent
Bet On Cincinnati Bengals in Regular Season: Week 9—at Home vs Cleveland Browns
Bet Against Cincinnati Bengals in Regular Season: Week 6—on Road at Buffalo Bills (Bengals 2-10 L12 vs Bills, 2-6 ATS L8 on Road at Buffalo); Week 8—on Road at Pittsburgh Steelers (Bengals 0-3 ATS L3 vs Steelers, 1-4 ATS L5 at Home); Week 10—at Home vs Houston Texans (Bengals 1-6 ATS L7 vs Texans, 1-3 ATS L4 at Home)
Futures Book Bet on Cincinnati Bengals: Regular Season Team Total Wins Under 8½ -110 (Westgate Las Vegas SuperBook)