In The Bettors Corner: Cincinnati Bengals

With the departures of A.J. Green and Geno Atkins, the last pieces of the Marvin Lewis era are gone. Second-year head coach Zac Taylor will continue to build around quarterback Joe Burrow. And that means building an offensive line to protect the former Heisman Trophy winner. Taylor is 6-25-1 in his two years in Cincinnati, and it is no secret that people within that organization question if he has the ability to be a head coach in this league. Taylor was given the job based on the work he did with Jared Goff in Los Angeles in 2018. He has that opportunity in Cincinnati with Joe Burrow. If he can keep him off his back. Cincinnati quarterbacks were sacked 48 times last year; Burrow was sacked 32 before tearing his ACL at Washington in week 11. The Bengals did sign Riley Reif to play right tackle and have former first-rounder from Alabama Jonah Williams to play left tackle. The problem is there is no certain starter for the three interior line positions and absolutely no dept at any of the line positions, which makes it all the more curious why, given the chance to draft Penei Sewell, largely regarded as the best offensive lineman in the draft from Oregon Taylor decided to draft Ja'Marr Chase, Burrow's running mate from LSU. It's not to say Chase will not become an impact player immediately, he's a stud that looks the part and has his buddy throwing footballs to him, but the obvious need there was on the offensive line. It will be a decision that Taylor will have to answer for throughout the season. Cincinnati did draft D'Ante Smith and Trey Hill in the later rounds; both offensive linemen are not considered starters in the NFL. The Bengals finished 29th in overall offense and only averaged 19.5 points a game. They did average 25 points a game the previous four games before Burrow's injury ended his season. There is more than enough talent on this team to produce points with Tyler Boyd, Tee Higgins, and Chase. Joe Mixon has shown he can be productive coming out of the backfield if healthy. Again, Joe Burrow and this offense will go as far as the offensive line will take them. The Bengals defense was ranked 27th overall in 2020; they gave up 26.5 points a game, 241.2 passing yards a game, and ranked in the bottom five of the NFL, giving up 148 yards a game on the ground. Bengals sacked opposing quarterbacks 17 times which ranked dead last in the NFL. They were led by Carl Lawson with 5.5, who signed as a free agent with the Jets.

The Bengals play in the toughest division in football. The AFC North is the only division to have three playoff teams in 2020. Along with the Ravens, Steelers, and Browns, the Bengals play the Bears, Packers, and Chiefs, all teams who made the playoffs in 2020. They open up the season at home against Minnesota and then play at Chicago and Pittsburgh. The only primetime game they have is on September 30th on Thursday night football against Jacksonville. They don't get a bye until week 10 and the extra game on the schedule is home against San Francisco. They finish the season with three straight games against 2020 playoff teams( Baltimore, Kansas City, and Cleveland).

Las Vegas has the win total for Cincinnati at 6-wins, so you will need 7 wins to cash this ticket. I don't see seven wins on Cincinnati's schedule. Zac Taylor has not proven he can win in the NFL and didn't do much to protect the franchise on that offensive line. I'm not sure Burrow will even be ready to start week one and even if he is why put him in danger with a unproven offensive line. There in the toughest division, and have to play Kansas City and Green Bay as well. Having Jacksonville, Detroit and the Jets on the schedule helps but won't get them to 7 wins. 5-12, or even 6-11, seems more likely.

Cincinnati Bengals under 6-wins.

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