Cincinnati Bengals (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS) vs. New York Jets (0-0 SU, 0-0 ATS)
NFL Week 1
Date/Time: Sunday, September 11, 2016, 1 pm EST
Where: MetLife Stadium, East Rutherford, N.J.
TV: CBS, DirecTV 707
by Badger, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN -2.5/NYJ +2.5
Over/Under Total: 41.5
Two franchises expected to contend in their respective divisions will meet at MetLife Stadium in East Rutherford, N.J., in week one National Football League action, when the Cincinnati Bengals travel to take on the New York Jets in an AFC conference 2016 regular season opener on Sunday.
The Bengals have been at or near the top of the AFC North for several season now, but consistent one-and-done disappointing performances in the AFC playoffs has head coach Marvin Lewis on the hot seat to start the year. With virtually the same team back from past seasons, Lewis and the Bengals will need to prove to everyone they’re ready to take the next step in their progression and get closer to the prize at the end of the long campaign.
Despite a 10-win season in 2015, the Jets still fell short of reaching the AFC playoffs last season and the result has left the team itching for the start of the regular season. While most of the off-season focus was spent on the contract drama between the team and quarterback Ryan Fitzpatrick, inside the looker room the Jets players know full well that this might be the best chance they may get to take the AFC East away from New England now that the Patriots are without Tom Brady for four weeks. A fast start will be critical, starting with their opener at home in MetLife on Sunday.
At some sportsbooks this game opened long ago as a pick ‘em, but since those early days a lot of public action on the Bengals has forced oddsmakers to move the point spread to Cincinnati as 2.5-point favorites on the road. The over/under total has also seen a little bit of line movement, opening at 42.5 before it dropped the hook to 42 at most books or even a full point to 41.5 in and around the sportsbooks in Las Vegas.
Regular season openers are always hard to handicap, especially in recent years since most NFL teams hardly ever play their starters or show their hand in the preseason anymore. Neither or these teams did a whole lot this August to either prove or discredit their contender status, so when they line up on Sunday we’ll have to go with what we’ve learned from each team over the last 12 to 24 months.
Once again the Bengals will go as far as Andy Dalton will take them in 2016. Dalton has skill players in Jeremy Hill and A.J. Green, and a solid line in front of him for protection. The Jets defense under head coach Todd Bowles will certainly try and confuse Dalton by disguising their looks and bringing a lot of different blitz packages, so how well he’s able to read those looks at the line and get into the right play will be key to the Bengals success on Sunday.
Ironically, the same paragraph could be written about Fitzpatrick and the Jets offense going up against a typically strong Bengals defense on Sunday. The Jets did go out and bring in one of the most versatile running backs in the league by signing former Bear Matt Forte, who’s pass-catching ability will serve as a security blanket for Fitzpatrick on checkdowns and could open up big options for the Jets with the screen pass.
Historically the Jets have enjoyed success against the Bengals, winning four of the last five and eight of the last 10 meetings against the AFC North foe. Cincinnati did win the last meeting between these two teams in 2013, destroying an overmatched Jets team in the Queen City by a score of 49-9.
As far as betting trends go, almost all signs point to a wager on the Jets. Not only is the home team a solid 6-1 ATS in the head-to-head series between these two over the years, but Cincinnati is also 0-4 ATS in their last four visits to East Rutherford.
Badger’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: I’m a little bit surprised by the Jets being a home dog in this game, but it doesn’t surprise me that the public seems to be siding with the team that has been in the AFC playoffs almost every year since the 2010s. While I expect this one to be well played and close to the very end, a game that could go either way, I’m taking the underdog Jets plus the 2.5-points at home.
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