Cincinnati Bengals (0-2 SU, 0-2 ATS) vs. Green Bay Packers (1-1 SU, 1-1 ATS)
NFL Week 3
Date/Time: Sunday, September 24 at 4:25pm PM EST
Where: Lambeau Field
by Evergreen, Expert Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: CIN +8.5/GB -8.5
Over/Under Total: 44.5
We have seen a thrilling start to the 2017 NFL season, right? I say that with a lot of sarcasm as this year is off to a very slow scoring pace and it is blatantly apparent that many teams were just not ready to go live two weeks ago. Perhaps things will change and teams will hit a stride as we go further but man, we could see another slate of rough matchups this weekend. One that looks pretty tilted features Cincinnati going to Green Bay in hopes of shaking off an 0-2 start. The Bengals are the first team since 1939 to open the season with two games at home and fail to score a touchdown. RIding that kind of momentum, Cincy fans might be happy to see their boys put 14 points on the board, win or lose. Green Bay should be poised to roll in this one but the injury bug has bitten the Pack hard and puts their Sunday fate in some jeopardy if they cant get some people back on the field.
That injury list for Green Bay includes three offensive lineman. Bryan Bulaga, David Bakhtiari and Jason Spriggs all missed last week and are questionable for Sunday. Atlanta was able to harass Aaron Rodgers for much of the night last week and got A-Rod to the turf often, forcing a backward pass on one hit that turned into a defensive score. Bulaga did participate in part of the Wednesday practice but that is not a firm indication of his status at this point. Jordy Nelson and Randall Cobb exited with injuries last week and are also questionable for this game. Losing one would be less than a big deal but losing both would put depth receivers in a spot where they would have to contribute. Mike Daniels is still dealing with a hamstring and his absence Sunday Night was noticeable as Matt Ryan was able to carve up the Packers defense without a lot of pressure upon him. All in all, Green Bay is missing probably four of its top seven players after Rodgers and that is a very tough scenario to overcome in the NFL, no matter the opponent. Cincinnati is healthier but Pacman Jones is listed as day-to-day with an arm injury and Tyler Eifert is also day-to-day with a bad back.
The online betting sites opened this game with the Packers listed as 7.5 point favorites. There was some movement in the early betting and the point spread bumped to 9 but has settled back to 8.5 with roughly 66% of the action on Green Bay. Cincinnati enters with a 2-5 record against the spread in their last seven games away from home while Green Bay has won an amazing 39 games ATS in their last 60 at Lambeau. This will be just the fourth meeting between these teams since 2005 with the last coming in 2013 when the Bengals were able to sneak out a 34-30 win at home.
I really have no idea what to say about the state of the Bengals offense. They were blanked in the opener against Baltimore and managed just nine points last week against Houston on Thursday Night. The Ravens and Texans are strong defensive units but neither are the 85 Bears and it seems that most of the Cincinnati woes are self-inflicted. They have one of the best running back stables on paper with Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon but none of the three have been able to do much beyond the proverbial three yards and a cloud of dust routine. They could attack Green Bay with Mixon and Bernard catching ball out the backfield and they may have to with the Packers looking improved on defense from the porous unit that hit the field last year. A.J. Green is the best player on this offense and he has looked good in a couple spots but Andy Dalton has not been able to do much down the field. Dalton enters the week completing just 54% of his passes and has thrown four interceptions. The Bengal defense has not been bad in allowing just 16.5 points per game and Geno Atkins has three sacks already but there is nothing the defense can do when the offense is averaging 4.5 points per game. The Packers offense is a huge step up from Baltimore or Houston so Cincinnati will be hard pressed to allow anything less than 24.
Green Bay probably just needs to stay out of its own way this Sunday. The game against the Falcons last week was going to be tough to win but the Packers scuttled their chances with ten penalties and two turnovers that led to 14 points the other way. Aaron Rodgers cannot put up MVP numbers behind shaky O-line play but the fill-ins actually did OK last week outside of a couple of letdowns and Mike McCarthy believes another week of prep will help improve the line play, even if the injured starters miss again. Rodgers may be throwing to Geronimo Allison instead of Jordy Nelson but that should honestly be enough given Green Bay is at home. Rodgers is averaging nearly 300 passing yards and the Packers are 7th in total yards through two games. Ty Montgomery has been the most consistent offensive producer with 203 scrimmage yards and three scores through two weeks. He is a talented pass catcher and gives Green Bay a nice matchup when he is covered by a linebacker.
Obviously, the injury report is the story here. A clean slate on Green Bays side would likely have this point spread at 10 or maybe more given how bad Cincinnati has looked. If every one of the injured Packers missed the game, I would still take Green Bay to win by five or six. I dont think they all miss and I think the Packers will get enough offensive production at home to get 27 points on the board. That puts Cincinnati on the hook for 19 to cover and I dont like their chances. Green Bay is not as good defensively as Baltimore or Houston but they are no worse than middle of the NFL pack and almost always play better at home. I think Cincinnati is able to get some things going this week but not enough to scare more off the Packers. Green Bay will probably jump out fast and then ride things out to a 27-17 win. They are beat up but they are not a bad team, Cincinnati looks like a bad team.
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