The NFL odds show the Falcons coming into this game favored by -4, with a total of 36.5 points. There should be plenty of value in this game, but on which side?
Falcons’ new toys
Any true toy collector never breaks their toys out of the box right when they get them, and I have a feeling that is what the Falcons are going to do in the preseason on offense. The Falcons have very little offensive position battles going on this offseason, and going into the first fake game, I doubt they play their starters very much.
Mike Smith doesn’t pay too much attention to the preseason, especially early in the exhibition games. Since Smith took over in 2008, the Falcons are 7-13 SU in the preseason, and they are 1-4 SU in Week 1 of the preseason behind Smith. Subsequently, the Falcons have a winning record in Week 3’s of the preseason at 4-1 SU, so maybe we should wait until Week 3 before betting the Falcons.
With Matt Ryan just signing a brand new extension, it would be a shame in their “Super Bowl or bust,” was wrecked this season if he got hurt in a preseason game. I see the Falcons’ starters playing about half of the first quarter, and then giving the reins over the second and third units. There is no reason for them to try and win this game, as they are playing the long game.
Read our Falcons Season Win Total Odds Report!
Cincinnati on the other hand does have some new toys they want to play with, and they also need to take a good, long look at several players on both sides of the ball. The Bengals restocked this offseason on starters and depth players, but on offense, the draft brought them two new contributors that will likely see some extended run in this game.
Giovanni Benard and Tyler Eifert are both new rookies to this offense, and both will likely start the year with a heavy contribution. Benard could become this team’s leading back once the season gets underway, and Eifert will be used a lot in two-tight end sets along with Jermaine Gresham. Those are two important areas, and I expect both Benard and Eifert to have a heavy run in this first game, at least through the first quarter and possibly more.
Even though AJ Green is still dealing with a knee bruise and his status for the game is unknown, I still see the Bengals as having value for your sports picks. Marvin Lewis will want to show off some of his new arsenal, as well as start to nail down some of the position battles. The Bengals still have some questions at their other receiver slot, as well as in the depth charts of the secondary. I just see the Bengals with a lot more to play for in this game, and as big underdogs for the preseason, they have the value. They also still don’t know who will be their backup QB behind Andy Dalton, so for at least the first half, I see the Bengals playing their 1st and 2nd string.
We continue our NFL offseason coverage with the Bengals Season Win Total Odds!
The Sharp Pick
With a lot more position battles comes harder play from the guys battling. That normally means that’s the team that is going to play harder. The Bengals play hard all of the time, and I don’t think this preseason game is going to be much different.
The Falcons only need to do some evaluation on the offensive line, and that will hurt their chances of winning this game more than it will help. The Bengals’ pass rush is deep and will be coming after whoever is under center. Mike Smith is 1-7 SU in the Falcons’ last two preseasons, and it is clear he only gives stock in the 2nd and 3rd games, not the first. Take the points in your NFL picks
NFL Pick: Bet the Bengals plus the points, at +4 if possible.
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