NFL Picks: Bengals vs. Patriots Odds Report

Jason Lake

Thursday, October 2, 2014 5:20 PM GMT

Thursday, Oct. 2, 2014 5:20 PM GMT

Don’t look now, but the Cincinnati Bengals are the best team in football. They’re also undefeated against the NFL odds, and they’re well-rested for Sunday night’s game against the New England Patriots.

Jason’s record after Week 4: 12-14 ATS, 5-4-1 Totals

Profit: minus-5.6 units

Are you ready to trade in your Tom Brady pajamas for some tiger stripes? The Cincinnati Bengals are the new kings of the NFL jungle; they were No. 1 on the DVOA charts at Football Outsiders after starting the 2014 season at 3-0 SU and ATS, and No. 1 is where they remain after taking the bye in Week 4. The Patriots? They fell all the way from No. 7 to No. 23 after losing 41-14 to the Kansas City Chiefs (+3 at home). Not good.

This sets up a very intriguing Sunday Night Football matchup (8:30 p.m. ET, NBC) in Foxborough. When the Week 5 NFL odds opened shortly after Monday’s loss to the Chiefs, New England was just a pick’em at The Razor; since then, the spread has moved to Patriots +1 or even +1.5 at select online sportsbooks, with bettors picking the Bengals at a 2:1 ratio. It’s a brave new world.

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Andy is Dandy
It remains to be seen whether the NFL betting public will follow the early birds and pull the chute on New England. But you had to know the sharps would be on Cincinnati right out of the gate. Even though the Bengals top the efficiency charts (No. 5 offense, No. 1 defense, No. 13 special teams), they still have many of the features you normally find with a “value” pick: regional market, ugly history, no-name roster.

They even have a red-headed quarterback. People love to rag on Andy Dalton, Game Manager, but here’s a guy whose production has increased in each of his four seasons in the league. Dalton’s plus-593 Total DYAR last year put him ahead of the likes of Carson Palmer (plus-544) and Cam Newton (plus-523). This year, Dalton’s already at plus-147 Total DYAR after three starts. He’ll easily earn his second Pro Bowl nomination at this rate.

All this makes the Bengals a strong “follow” candidate until proven otherwise. But Sunday’s game is extra-special: Cincinnati is coming off a bye week with an intact roster and plenty of swagger. Bengals coach Marvin Lewis hasn’t always been able to take advantage – he’s 5-6 ATS in bye-week games. However, that improves to 2-1 ATS during the Dalton Years, and so far, this is the best team Lewis has ever coached.

 

Garoppolo!
This is not the best Patriots team that Bill Belichick has ever coached. Not by a country mile. Brady is still the quarterback, but as we’ve already beaten into the ground, he’s working with a less accomplished supporting cast on the offensive line and in the receiving corps. Things only got worse against Kansas City; Belichick shuffled the deck chairs on his sinking O-line throughout the game, never finding a combination that worked.

Ultimately, Brady was sacked twice, he fumbled twice (recovering once), and he threw two picks before giving way to back-up QB Jimmy Garoppolo in the fourth quarter. But hey, at least we got to see Garoppolo connect with TE Rob Gronkowski on the game’s final scoring play. We could be looking at the future of the Patriots right there. Maybe even the not-too-distant future.

Anytime you’re setting up your NFL picks, you ideally want to time your bet to get the best price possible on your chosen team. That usually means waiting until close to kick-off before fading the Patriots. But now that the Pats are 2-2 SU and 1-3 ATS, and now that Brady (minus-198 Total DYAR) is barely outperforming Geno Smith (minus-204 Total DYAR), perhaps the betting public will reconsider. As it stands, New England is still second only to the New Orleans Saints in public money, with Cincinnati way down at No. 23 with all the other regional teams. Roar?

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