CIncinnati Bengals (0-2) at New York Jets (1-1)
The Bengals are favored on the road against the Jets and have a much tougher game on deck against the Dolphins, which happens to be on Thursday Night Football. Typically, that is not a good spot for a team, as favorites cover at just a 42.7% rate before Thursday Night Football all-time, as having an upcoming short turnaround tends to serve as a distraction for teams, especially as favorites. However, the Bengals are desperate at 0-2, a year after making the Super Bowl and coming into this season with legitimate aspirations of making it back, so it’s hard to argue this is going to be a trap game, for a team seeking to avoid 0-3.
The Bengals have also played better than their record, primarily losing to the Steelers because they lost the turnover battle by -5, which is not predictive week-to-week, and then barely losing on the road in Dallas, leading to them actually ranking 11th in overall efficiency despite their 0-2 record. However, they’ve faced a pretty underwhelming schedule thus far and should have performed better than that if they were a playoff caliber team. They still have the talent to be, but they haven’t played like one yet.
With that in mind, the Bengals are a still a little overvalued, even at 0-2, favored by 6 points on the road in New York against a Jets team that has issues at the quarterback position, but that otherwise isn’t half bad and that figures to be significantly more competitive than a year ago, thanks to better health and some key off-season additions. My calculated line has the Bengals favored by 4.5, but that’s not enough line value for the Jets to be worth betting, especially since the Bengals could be very focused to avoid 0-3 and to make a statement, even in what would ordinarily be a tough spot for a team, with a tough Thursday night game on road. The Jets are my pick, but for pick ‘em purposes only.
Cincinnati Bengals 24 New York Jets 20
Pick against the spread: NY Jets +6