Pick Bengals -8 vs. Viking for Week 16 NFL Lock

Steve Merril - Steve@prosportsinfo.com

Friday, December 20, 2013 8:42 PM GMT

Minnesota will hit the road and play at Cincinnati on Sunday afternoon. Overall this season, Minnesota is 4-9 SU, but a solid 8-6 ATS; the Vikings are 0-7 SU and 4-3 ATS on the road. Cincinnati is 9-5 SU and 8-5-1 ATS; they are a perfect 6-0 SU and ATS at home this season.

The current pointspread on this game has Cincinnati as an 8-point home favorite at most NFL odds shops. The total is currently 47.5 at the majority of shops.

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Minnesota is off their best offensive game of the season. They scored 48 points on 455 yards of offense in their home win over Philadelphia last week. But the Vikings will be hard-pressed to duplicate that production in this game, especially against a stout Cincinnati defense.

Quarterback Matt Cassel played well above his head last week. Cassel completed 26 of his 35 passes for 382 yards with 2 touchdown passes. That was at home and inside a dome against an Eagles’ defense that gives up 24.9 points per game while allowing opposing quarterbacks to average 7.0 yards per pass attempt. Cassel’s opponent is a much bigger challenge this week.

Cincinnati returns home off an ugly blowout loss at Pittsburgh last Sunday night. Their offense played terribly as they scored just 20 points on 279 yards of total offense. The 30 points allowed by the Cincinnati defense was just the third time this season they’ve allowed more than 24 points in a game. We expect a big bounce back effort from the Bengals on both sides of the ball, and that means they’ll be ready for a peak performance. 

The Bengals’ defense has been rock solid this season. Cincinnati is allowing just 19.6 points per game while holding opponents to only 318.4 yards of total offense per game. Cincinnati is giving up 4.8 yards per play (#4) and 5.7 yards per pass attempt (#2). Those numbers are strong, and prevent the Vikings’ offense from moving the ball consistently in this game. 

Minnesota’s poor defense will be hard-pressed to stop the Bengals in this game. The Vikings have given up 23 points or more in every road game this season. Overall, Minnesota is allowing 30.4 points and 407.1 yards per game. The Vikings allow opponents to gain 5.7 yards per play (#26) and 7.1 yards per pass attempt (#20). 

The Vikings’ pass defense has allowed a league-high 32 passing touchdowns this season. Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton has played significantly better at home than on the road this season. Dalton has a QB rating of 98.9 at home versus an 80.8 rating on the road. Dalton also has an incredible 14/5 TD/INT ratio at home; on the road he has a 13/11 TD/INT ratio. 

In their last three home games, the Bengals’ offense has been unstoppable. They scored 49 points on the Jets, 41 points on the Browns, and 42 points on the Colts. Minnesota’s defense presents no resistance so Cincinnati’s offense will get back on track in this game.

[gameodds]16/227099/?r-1=43-19-349/us[/gameodds]

Cincinnati is the much better team on both sides of the ball and they are coming off a loss. The Bengals will have their full focus on this game while Minnesota is “fat and happy” off their shootout home win over the Eagles. We’ll back Cincinnati with our NFL picks in this game on Sunday afternoon.

Play BENGALS (-).