Posted 09/05/2011 at 03:29 PM
The Bengals have been a punching bag this summer and most are projecting a historically bad season in Cincinnati. Value will be with the Ďoverí in this wager however as the Bengals were initially released at 7.5 by many books. Cincinnati finished just 4-12 last season but this was a competitive team in most games. The Bengals beat the Ravens and the Chargers last season which is more quality wins than many teams with better records had and seven losses came by eight points or less. Cincinnati had to play eleven games against teams that finished with winning records last season as they faced one of the toughest schedules in the league with the NFC South teams and the AFC East teams as well as drawing San Diego and Indianapolis as a result of the first place schedule from the 2009 standings. Ten Cincinnati losses came in succession in the middle of the season as things spiraled out of control and there should be a more positive locker room this season with the big name players that often caused distractions departed.
While Cincinnati had one of the toughest schedules in the league last season the Bengals draw a very favorable slate this year. The Bengals still have to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore twice but all four of those games were very competitive last season. The AFC North teams play the four NFC West teams and the four AFC South teams, and those are likely to be two of the weakest divisions in the league this year and none of those eight teams figures to be among the few elite teams in the league. The fourth place finish also allows for games with Buffalo and Denver, two teams that are again likely to be among the worst in the AFC. Cincinnati basically draws a schedule similar to what Kansas City had last season when they went from 4-12 to 10-6. The Bengals donít have as much in place as the Chiefs did last year but they should expect to improve in record based on the schedule alone. In the first eight games of the season the Bengals will only play one team that had a winning record last year, the Colts at home and that is a team that may not be up to speed early in the year with Peyton Manningís recovery. The second half schedule is more difficult with five division games but Cincinnati is 8-4 in division games the past two years. For the year Cincinnati will only play three teams (five games) against teams that had winning records last year.
The Bengals are going with rookie Andy Dalton at QB and while he has not looked great this preseason, Cincinnatiís focus will be on running the ball and offensive coordinator Jay Gruden has a good track record of putting together successful offenses with limited talent at QB from his days in Tampa Bay. Nine times last season Cincinnati allowed 23 or fewer points and the defense should be among the stronger units in the AFC as the statistics from last season were skewed in a couple of tough games. Overall the Bengals should not be as bad as most of the grim predictions seem to be and going against the popular perception on season win totals is great way to profit. Vegas had it right when they opened this win total line as with this schedule Cincinnati will be able to win some games and their record will be better than most expect.