Atlanta Falcons (3-3) at Cincinnati Bengals (3-3)
The Falcons have been one of the most surprising teams in the league this season. Entering the season clearly in the beginning phases of a rebuild, with one of the least talented rosters in the league on paper, the Falcons have started 3-3 and their performance has been no fluke. Their defense has been mediocre, ranking 24th in schedule adjusted defensive efficiency, but their offense has statistically been one of the best in the league, ranking 5th in both first down rate and schedule adjusted efficiency, and offensive performance tends to be much more consistent week-to-week than defensive performance.
This week, the Falcons visit a Bengals team that is well above average, despite a 3-3 record, with all three of their losses coming by three points or fewer and a +23 point differential that is 7th best in the NFL, but the Falcons are still about even with the Bengals in overall schedule adjusted efficiency. My roster rankings don’t show the Falcons as favorably, as they’ve significantly overachieved compared to their talent level and are missing talented cornerback Casey Hayward this week, after being one of the healthiest teams in the league through the first few weeks of the season, but the Bengals still only have a 3-point edge in my roster rankings.
The Bengals are at home in this game, but these teams are closer than this 6.5-point line suggests, with my calculated line falling at Cincinnati -4.5. That’s not enough line value for the Falcons to be worth betting, but I would reconsider if this line jumped up to a full touchdown and the Falcons should be the right side for pick ‘em purposes. The Falcons haven’t lost by more than 6 points all season and, while it wouldn’t surprise me if they suffered their biggest margin of defeat thus far in Cincinnati against a good Bengals team this week, I would expect this to be a relatively close game.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 Atlanta Falcons 22
Pick against the spread: Atlanta +6.5