Cincinnati Bengals (0-2) at Green Bay Packers (1-1)
The Bengals have famously not scored a touchdown yet this season, picking up just 26 first downs on 120 plays in the process (21.67%). However, there are reasons to be optimistic about this offense. For one, they’ve fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese, whose playcalling was not liked by the players. They’ve had 10 days since that Thursday Night loss to the Texans to install their new offense and that could easily have results on the field. It also helps that their level of competition is weaker this week.
They started the season with the Ravens and Texans, who have among the best defenses in the league, but this week they get to face a Green Bay defense that is average at best when healthy and currently missing their top two defensive players, defensive end Mike Daniels and outside linebacker Nick Perry, with injuries. The Bengals could have offensive line problems all season, but the Packers don’t have the players to exploit that like the Ravens and Texans did. Andy Dalton has pretty good weapons to work with, even with John Ross and Tyler Eifert injured, and he should have better games going forward.
Daniels and Perry aren’t the only key injuries the Packers are dealing with as left tackle David Bakhtiari and wide receiver Randall Cobb are out on the offensive side of the ball, two significant losses. Cincinnati has an underrated defense, so Aaron Rodgers could have a tougher day than most expect. Given all of that, this line is too high at 7.5. I don’t think this line adjusted enough to compensate for the injuries. Daniels and Bakhtiari were both in the top-60 of my top-200 players list before the season started, while Cobb and Perry are above average starters as well. They are really short-handed right now.
The Bengals are also in a better spot. This is just their first road game and teams that start the season with back-to-back home games tend to fare better week 3 than other teams, going 44-33 ATS in that spot since 1989 (35-21 ATS as underdogs). Green Bay, meanwhile, has another game in 4 days after this one, when they host the Chicago Bears on Thursday night football. Favorites are just 58-87 ATS before Thursday night football since 2008. It helps the Packers that their opponent is a lowly Chicago team, but Chicago is a division rival and Cincinnati is a non-conference opponent, so their attention could definitely have been split this week, even though the Bears aren’t good. The Bengals, meanwhile, are rested, relatively healthy, and should be able to give the Packers a much closer game than their expecting. This is one of my favorite plays of the week.
Green Bay Packers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +7.5