The Patriots opened as 1-point underdogs as they visit the Cincinnati Bengals in Week 5.
Part of sports betting involves studying each team’s performance against different kinds of opponents and trying to formulate theories about how that team will respond to a similar opponent. For instance, if the Broncos are playing a team with a bad pass defense, they’re going to score a billion points (looking at you, Philadelphia). Or if the Jaguars play a team that belongs in the NFL they’re probably going to lose. Badly. Last week, I worried that the Pats wouldn’t be able to slow down Julio Jones, Tony Gonzalez, two-thirds of Roddy White and the other elements of the Atlanta passing attack. With Roddy White gimping around at closer to 1/10th of his normal stuff, my theory was happily blown out of the water.
On the plus side, a new theory might be emerging – that the Pats can limit an offense that features one stud receiver by simply having Talib chase him around all day and giving him a bit of help over the top (assuming that team also lacks a running game). Enter A.J. Green and the Bengals. While Gio Bernard has shown glimpses of brilliance, Cincy has largely been a one-trick pony. Green has more than twice as many yards as the next-best WR on the Bengals, and he’s the only element of the passing game with more than 1 TD. He’s been 30% of the team’s passing offense. If the Patriots can hold him down, it’s tough to see a path for the Bengals to put up a big number on the scoreboard.
Despite facing a pretty easy slate in terms of rushing offense, Cincy’s rush D has been only slightly above average. The Patriots should be able to grind out yards on the ground, so the game should come down to converting opportunities in the red zone and limiting turnovers. They’ve shown slow but steady signs of improvement in that regard, so it’s safe to say they should be favored in this game instead of being a slight underdog.
Since the spread is so small, I’m eschewing a pick against the spread and picking the Pats to win outright at +105.
Other Lines I Like
Bills (+4) @ Browns
I like Brian Hoyer as much as the next guy. And I admit that it’s hard to find something to like when you look at the Bills defense. But come on, these are the Browns. They aren’t allowed to win three straight, are they?
Panthers (-1.5) @ Cardinals
Something seems off with this line. The Panthers have played tough against good competition, they are fresh off a bye, and they’re playing a Cardinals team that just isn’t very good.
2013 Record ATS: 5-6-1
Record ATS since 2010: 112-105-5