NFL Odds: No Week 1 Game More Uncertain Than Bengals vs Jets

Matthew Jordan

Sunday, May 29, 2016 3:00 PM GMT

Sunday, May. 29, 2016 3:00 PM GMT

There are more than three months until the 2016 NFL season opens, but you can bet Week 1 lines right now. No game is more uncertain than Bengals at Jets, with Cincinnati at -1.

Bengals Short On Guys To Catch Ball
The last thing Cincinnati could afford to lose right now is a pass catcher. Yes, the Bengals still have one of the best receivers in the NFL in A.J. Green. He was brilliant again in 2015 with 86 catches (132 targets) for 1,297 yard and 10 touchdowns. There are few better.

However, the Bengals lost their No. 2 receiver, Marvin Jones, in free agency to Detroit. The Lions were desperate for a receiver after Calvin Johnson retired and gave Jones a $40 million deal. In 2013, Jones caught a career-high 10 touchdown passes. He was hurt in 2014, but then last year Jones caught 65 passes (103 targets) for 816 yards and four touchdowns. And the team's No. 3 receiver, Mohamed Sanu, signed a $32.5 million deal with Atlanta. He had 33 catches (not a single drop) for 394 yards last year. The Bengals really relied on him in 2014 with Green missing parts of six games due to injuries. Sanu had 56 catches for 790 yards and five scores that year, showing major promise.

So right now, it's probably journeyman Brandon LaFell starting opposite Green. Unfortunately for QB Andy Dalton, he might not have Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert now to start the season. He hurt his ankle in the Pro Bowl. The Bengals wanted Eifert to rest and hoped it would improve, but it didn't. So Eifert will have surgery on the ankle and could miss the first few games of the season. It's not impossible that Eifert could get back in late August and thus be ready for Week 1, but it's far from a sure thing. Eifert played in 13 games last season had 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. Those TD catches were the most of any tight end, even Rob Gronkowski. Like Gronk, the 6-foot-6 Eifert was a massive red-zone target.

So assuming he misses Week 1, that's a huge loss for Dalton because teams will absolutely blanket Green because they won't fear anyone else. Eifert's likely replacement would be Tyler Kroft. He played in all 16 games last year as a rookie and was targeted just 15 times, catching 11 passes for 129 yards and a touchdown.

The Bengals currently have a wins total of 9.5 on NFL odds.


 

Jets' QB Situation Ugly
The New York Jets have no such receiver worries as they have two good ones in Brandon Marshall and Eric Decker. What the Jets don't know is who will throw them the ball. Right now the team's starter is Geno Smith, and, well, been there done that. Smith has already proven that he's not a starting quarterback in the NFL. The other QBs on the roster are Bryce Petty, a fourth-round pick last year, and Christian Hackenberg, a second-round pick out of Penn State this year. Neither are close to being ready for the NFL and, frankly, might not be even be NFL players.

Ryan Fitzpatrick led the Jets to a 10-6 record in 2015 and a near playoff berth -- they would have made it if not for an upset Week 17 loss in Buffalo when Fitzpatrick had one of his worst games of the year. But Fitzpatrick, on his sixth career team (Buffalo had been one), had his best season. He started all 16 games, completing 59.6 percent for 3,905 yards, 31 touchdowns and a rating of 88.0.

So why don't the Jets want him back? They do, but at their price. Considering Fitzpatrick is a journeyman 33-year-old, New York offered him around $8 million to re-sign. Fitzpatrick thought he deserved the likes of what Houston gave Brock Osweiler and Philadelphia gave Sam Bradford because Fitzpatrick outplayed them both. Thus the stalemate.

Truth be told, the Jets hold all the leverage now. There are no open starting jobs in the NFL. Fitzpatrick has previously said he would rather sit out than play for the Jets' offer, but he really has no choice. Most presume something will get done because the Jets can't possibly go into the season with Smith as their starter.

The Jets have a 2016 win total of 8 on NFL picks.

 

Last Meeting
Cincinnati ended a four-game losing streak against the Jets with a 49-9 home blowout in Week 8 of the 2013 season. Dalton threw for 325 yards and set a career high with five TD passes. Jones caught eight passes for 122 yards and four of those scores. Green caught three balls for 115 yards. The Jets were quarterbacked that day by Smith, who was predictably terrible with two interceptions. New York had 240 total yards.

Both teams at full health, the Bengals would be the pick here. But if Eifert is out and Fitzpatrick does sign before training camp, the Jets would be good betting value at home.

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Free NFL Pick:  Bengals -1
Best Line Offered:  at Bookmaker

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