Dec 032016
 

Philadelphia Eagles (5-6) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-7-1)

Before the season started, I had the Bengals on my list of teams that I thought would disappoint. They won 12 games last season and were 10-2 before losing quarterback Andy Dalton for the season with injury, but outside of Dalton they barely had an injuries last season, something that usually doesn’t happen two years in a row. They also lost of number of players in free agency, including cornerback Leon Hall, safety Reggie Nelson, and wide receivers Mohamed Sanu and Marvin Jones.

Things have been even worse than I expected though. Dalton has stayed healthy, but the Bengals haven’t stayed nearly as healthy as last season around him on either side of the ball. A couple weeks ago, their season went from bad to worse when they lost wide receiver AJ Green for an extended period of time with a slight hamstring tear and running back Giovani Bernard for the season with a torn ACL. Both injuries came in a close home loss to the Bills and then the following week they suffered a close road loss in Baltimore, dropping them to 3-7-1.

Now I actually think the Bengals are underrated. Many of their losses have been close, with their last 3 coming by a combined 10 points. Dalton might not have Bernard or Green, but Tyler Eifert is healthy, which they didn’t have earlier in the season. He still has a strong offensive line in front of him and didn’t play badly against a tough Baltimore defense last week. The Bengals also have a decent defense. On the season, they rank 16th in first down rate differential, not terrible and actually one spot above the Eagles.

The Bengals aren’t as good as that suggests without Bernard and Green, but the Eagles aren’t healthy either, missing running back Ryan Mathews and possibly wide receiver Jordan Matthews with injury. They also haven’t been the same offensively since losing right tackle Lane Johnson to suspension. Despite that, the Eagles are favored by 1.5 here in Cincinnati, because the Bengals are an underrated team. The Bengals are also in a much better spot, as they go to Cleveland next week, while the Eagles host the Redskins in a key divisional matchup. The Eagles could definitely overlook a 3-7-1 non-conference opponent, while the Bengals figure to be very focused with the worst team in the league on deck. Home underdogs are 79-44 ATS before being road favorites since 2002. I like the Bengals a good amount this week.

Cincinnati Bengals 20 Philadelphia Eagles 17 Upset Pick +100

Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +1.5

Confidence: Medium

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