NFL Picks: Patriots vs. Bengals in Week 5

Doug Upstone

Wednesday, October 2, 2013 6:58 PM GMT

This was supposed to be a marquee matchup and while the interest level is still high, for those making NFL picks, they find two teams shrouded in mystery.

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Two Quarterbacks Trying to Find Their Way for Different Reasons

Tom Brady was widely roasted on several pregame shows a couple weeks back for expressing his displeasure publically on the sidelines about his teammates and their lack of executing the offense properly.

With the exception of Julian Edelman, the cast is new and the New England offense has looked more like the Jets than vintage Patriots. (That might be too harsh)

But last week against Atlanta, Brady was starting to look more at ease with Edelman, undrafted rookie Kenbrell Thompkins and others and had his first 300-yard passing game of the season. With New England 4-0 without a top flight offense, once the Pats players become more cohesive, this could be a treacherous opponent.

Andy Dalton’s difficulties are different, but his will not improve with time, rather with hard work and determination. Dalton ranks 14th in completion percentage at 63.5 percent, but his numbers drop below 60 percent the past three weeks.

The concern from the Cincinnati offensive coaches is just not missing receivers, but being off target by five yards, which causes pass catchers to snap their head around wondering what happened.

This has become most noticeable when Dalton lacks a solid running game and he’s forced to throw down after down. NFL football handicappers are questioning if the Bengals are a reliable play with an off-target quarterback.

NFL Betting Odds and Matchup Numbers

Cincinnati opened last Sunday as 1.5-point sports betting favorite and has been bet down to a "Pick", sporting a 1-8 ATS mark off a SU division road loss. Watch this number closely, since New England is 34-20-2 ATS as a road favorite since 2003. Brady and friends have won and covered the past three meetings.

The total has been moved up one point by sportsbooks to 45.5 and the Patriots are either 18-11-1 ‘Over’ as a non-division away favorite or 15-6 ‘Over’ as a road underdog.

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New England wins and covers by… 

Brady having more available weapons. Patriots think Danny Amendola has good chance to return, putting another useful body for Brady to utilize. Rob Gronkowski is another matter and quietly the Patriots front office is wondering why those in the tight end’s “inner circle” are reluctant to have him play.

The Patriots begin life after losing Pro Bowl defensive tackle Vince Wilfork with a torn Achilles tendon. Undrafted rookies Joe Vellano and Chris Jones held up well against Atlanta, but how will they play going forward.

If Aqib Talib limits A.J. Green the way he held Julio Jones in check, New England can win this game and beat the NFL odds.

Cincinnati covers and wins by…

Andy Dalton showing more poise in the pocket. Bill Belichick will test the former TCU quarterback with blitzes, to see how he reacts and his level of accuracy when throwing. Dalton has to connect at a high rate and convert on third downs.

Cincinnati should pound the A-gaps with no Wilfork and be patient to try and wear down the Patriots up the gut. Also, the Bengals have two quality pass-catching tight ends, use them, which helps Green draw more single coverage which could result in big plays.

The defense has to give more effort, after a sluggish showing in the loss to Cleveland. The defensive line in particular has to not allow Brady to step into his throws.

Final Outcome

The Bengals seem to be searching, while last week looked like a breakthrough game for New England and I’ll use one of my NFL picks for the Pats to go 2-0 on the road trip.

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NFL Pick: New England Patriots at a +1.5 (-110) spread, available at Bet365 

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