At this time last season I recommended the Bengals as +190 co-favorites to win the AFC North and they delivered that win. However in 2014, will they have any value in the NFL Odds? They are once again co-favorites to win the division in 2014.
Super Bowl (+4000)
I small stints last season it seemed as if the Bengals were poised to be the NFL’s next great young team. Andy Dalton looked like a guy starting to grow again and the defense was fierce. However, even though they won their division and cashed in as picks for NFL Bettors, they did not go far in the playoffs. The Chargers came into town and knocked them out, and afterwards the team somewhat dissipated. Both Mike Zimmer and Jay Gruden got head coaching jobs, and while you can’t pin all of the successes of the Bengals on those two guys, I could see things taking a step back. Cincinnati now turns to Hue Jackson and Paul Guenther to head the offense and defense respectfully. Jackson is likely going to run the ball and chuck it deep all game. While I think it may work for a while, I don’t think Cincinnati is going to thrive under these circumstances, or offer us many chances at great betting picks. Dalton is not a great quarterback, and I believe the only reason he looked like a real quarterback at times last season was because of Gruden calling plays.
Not only did Cincinnati lose their two signal callers, but they lost some key players on both sides of the ball as well. Anthony Collins was the Bengals’ best offensive tackle, however he has joined up with Lovie Smith in Tampa. Andrew Hawkins also left, but the Bengals are still pretty deep at WR. However, the biggest loss was definitely DE, Michael Johnson, who also left town for Tampa. If the Bengals were an out in the wildcard round last season, I see no reason to believe they could win a playoff game with less of a team. I might even go as far to say that the Bengals might not even make the playoffs next season. Their NFL betting odds should still be good, but they are not winning 11 games in 2014.
AFC North (+200)
The Bengals are co-favorites once again from Bovada Sportsbook, however this season they are favored alongside the Steelers instead of the Ravens. Cincinnati’s 11 wins last season might have been a fluke, and with Pittsburgh improved a lot, I could see some regression from the young Bengals. They were only 3-3 SU versus the AFC North last season, and I find no reason to believe that they will be any better than a .500 team against their division this year. Baltimore should also be slightly improved, and the Browns could be the wildcard in the entire division. No one is going to be easy to beat this season for the Bengals, however they do have the 23rd ranked schedule in the strength of schedule rankings. Either way it goes, I’m pretty high on the Steelers this season, and it would take a huge step up from Andy Dalton to compete with Pittsburgh or Baltimore this year.