Just what we all wanted, a rematch of the 12-10 thrill fest that we got on Christmas Eve last season! And after week 1, lets just say it doesn’t look any more appealing. These two teams gave up a combined 15 sacks between them and turned the ball over 9 times! Suffice to say it wasn’t the start to the season that either team wanted, although it didn’t come as a complete shock given the state of their respective offensive line units, both of which threaten to derail their seasons after just one game.
The Bengals were shut out at home in a divisional clash against the blunt, offence-less Ravens who’s defence looks every bit as good as it did on paper, and conversely the Bengals Offensive line unit looked as poor as many had thought it would, they were consistently pushed back towards QB Andy Dalton who’s 4 interceptions and a fumble gave him one of the worst QBR’s in recorded history and earnt him -3 fantasy points (if you’re that way inclined) One was an awful looped throw into triple coverage, one was tipped and caught, one was off a guys bloody helmet. Basically everything that could have gone wrong for him, did go wrong. And I still contest the fumble from being hit in the final quarter should have been an incomplete pass, but it didn’t really matter by then anyway. I’m hoping (as a fan) that all of his bad luck/play is out of the way and it will be onwards and upwards from this week on, I mean it has to be, right?!
IF they can give Andy a little protection they have one of the most loaded rosters in the league, they have a top 3 (… 5?) WR in AJ Green, a top ranking TE in Tyler Eifert, one of the most talented rookie running backs to come out of this years class in Joe Mixon, and a whole range of supporting talent to help those guys out., John Ross was drafted #9 overall in this years draft. His 4.22 pace SHOULD be a huge benefit to the Bengals if he can stay fit, he is apparently going to play tonight and I can’t wait to see him in action. Last week against the Texans, sophomore wide-out Cody Core got free behind the secondary twice only for Dalton to miss him when wide open for what would have been 2 touchdowns. If he can do it, imagine what Ross’ electric pace should be capable of, adding to Ross and Green you have Brandon LaFell and slot receiver Tyler Boyd.
At RB they were a full on 3-headed committee last game, with Hill taking the first series, then Mixon and eventually Gio Bernard who actually looked the best of the backs. Logic, to me, would dictate that because of the constant pressure and interceptions from Dalton that you would lean heavily on the run game tonight and take away the chance on any INTs. But I’m just not sure they’ll do that. I do have a strange feeling that Gio or Mixon could go off tonight, but we shall see.
On the other side of the ball the Bengals defence was actually pretty damn good against the crappy Ravens team with little talent. Dennard blew a coverage that led to the Ravens breakaway TD, but they were constantly in the Ravens backfield and allowed very few yards for most of the game. They could have a field day against a poor Texans offensive line who allowed 10 sacks last week.
The Texans have a whole world of issues on offence. They will be starting rookie QB DeShaun Watson behind centre way before they probably wanted to, he sparked in pre-season but didn’t look anywhere near ready for a game in the NFL, he was however very good with his feet so he should be better at avoiding pressure than Tom Savage was last week, although that’s not a massive achievement.
Watson looked good for one drive when he came in at half time last week, but after that was a bit of a deer in the headlights. He did however target DeAndre ‘Nuk’ Hopkins a whole hell of a lot which is the most sensible thing a QB has done in Houston for a while, Nuk is a quality receiver who has been horribly underused over the last season and a bit. He can beat most Corners in contested catches, something that he has shown against the Bengals before. Jaelen Strong comes back from suspension and will go in opposite him with Bruce Ellington out through injury after looking promising in pre-season. Other than those two they’re struggling due to injury. All 3 of the starting tight ends on their roster are out with concussion so they’ve called up Evan Baylis from the practise squad, only thing I can tell you about him is that he caught 4 passes for 32 yards and fumbled the ball once in pre-season! If he was 20/1 I may of had half a point on him, but he seems to be a horrible 6/1, which is frankly ridiculous.
They are faring a little better health-wise in the running game, although with such a poor offensive line it’s always difficult to get that facet of the game turning over. Lamar Miller is a pretty decent running back who didn’t live up to the expectations of him that I had last year, and unsurprisingly failed to last week as well, he was backed up by Tyler Ervin who got the role as change of pace back last week with rookie Dont’a Foreman getting just 2 snaps. I like Foreman and they have said that they will get him more work this week, so I’ll be intrigued to see how he does. Miller isn’t really a goal line basher, so if they do actually get the ball that close then I expect Foreman to step in for those carries, but it remains to be seen whether I’m right in that summation.
The one area they are actually better than most teams is the defence, especially the defensive line which welcomes back JJ Watt this year. Frankly, he’s the best defensive player in the league when healthy, and adding him to Mercilus and Clowney who both stepped up in his absence last year makes them a team to be feared on this side of the ball.
This has the potential to be one of the worst televised games of the year. Neither team can protect their quarterback, and both boast above average defensive lines. The last twice the teams faced each other they put up 22 and 18 points between them with the Texans winning both games, ironically both with back up quarterbacks; There is likely to be a world of hurt put on both quarterbacks in this game, so i’m going to be backing the sacks. – o4.5 – (8/11 on 365) Skybet go o4.5 sacks at – 4/7, o5.5 – 5/4… 6.5 – 9/4…7.5 – 5/1… 8.5 – 9/1 and all the way up to 16/1 for o9.5 sacks. I’m not sure where the value lies here, but I’ll be taking the o4.5 on 365 and probably the o7.5, 8.5 and 9.5 with small stakes as personal bets. The one recommendation will be o4.5 though.
Every man and their dog is taken the UNDERs on the total points of 38 at 10/11 – Given the history it all makes sense, and it should easily land. I like the option of a Defensive/Special teams touchdown at 13/8 on 365. If we’re expecting as many sacks as I expect then there will be turnovers so it wouldn’t shock me to see someone from either defence running one back for a score. The Bengals also boast the best kick returner from last season as well.
Finally I have to add in a few anytime TD scorers who are big odds. – John Ross – 7/1 (WillHill) and Dont’a Foreman – 8/1 (365) – AJ Green to score first, and last TD – 50/1 (Skybet) – Half stake on each of these as they’re big longshots. The logic on the AJ Green bet is that there’s a good chance there’s only one TD in this game, if it’s him then he gets first and last score.
- Total sacks – o4.5 – 8/11 (Bet365) – 3pts
- D/ST TD – 13/8 (365) – 2pts
- DeShaun Watson anytime TD – 6/1 (365) – 1pt
- John Ross anytime TD – 7/1 (WillHill) – 0.5pts
- Dont’a Foreman anytime TD – 8/1 (365) – 0.5pts
- AJ Green first and last TD – 50/1 (Skybet) – 0.5pts
A few of these are standout prices, I wouldn’t take lower than 5s for Ross or Foreman. Watson 3s and above is OK.
7.5 pts total outlay.
YTD – 7.50 points profit
Good Luck, hopefully it will be a better game than I am expecting! It could be a very painful 130am wake up for me to watch this!