Minnesota Vikings (4-9 SU, 8-6 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (9-5 SU, 8-5-1 ATS)
NFL Week 16
Date and Time: Sunday, December 22, 1:00pm
Where: Paul Brown Stadium - Cincinnati, Ohio
by Bob, Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Point Spread: Min +7/CIN -7
Over/Under Total: 47.5
The Minnesota Vikings will travel to play the AFC North-leading Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday, December 22 with kickoff scheduled for noon. Minnesota is coming off their best win of the season, a 48-30 win over the Philadelphia Eagles while the Bengals were brought back down to earth with a 30-20 loss to the Steelers. Minnesota comes into this game sitting dead last in the NFC North with a 4-9-1 record, while Cincinnati still holds on to the top spot in the AFC North but with a slim one game lead over the suddenly hot Baltimore Ravens. This is a much bigger game for the Bengals than for the Vikings. The Bengals are the type of team that really needs that home field advantage, and if they end up letting the division title slip away, and have to go on the road in the playoffs, it could be a very short lived postseason for the cats. Cincy is sitting now as a touchdown favorite, while the total points are set at 47.5. In my opinion both of these teams are very unpredictable and unreliable week after week. Lets take a look and see what we can come up with here.
The Bengals have played pretty well this season, especially at home where they have not lost yet after six contests. So far it appears that this will be a no brainer for the Bengals, but it will not be as easy as it should be. This team all year has played up to some of its better opponents, but down to some of the ones they should easily handle. Cincinnati has wins over Detroit, New England, and Green Bay, but lost to Cleveland and Baltimore, when Baltimore was playing poorly. One positive to take away from all of it thought is that of the five losses suffered, two of them were in overtime, and another was a three point loss at Chicago in the season opener. Win or lose, the Bengals do remain competitive. The key to this game will be the play of Andy Dalton. I have never been too sold on Dalton, especially his ability to put he team on his back, but when you have AJ Green to throw to, your life tends to be a little easier at quarterback. This is a game that Cincy should win, and on paper, they should cover, but they cannot make mistakes and must play defense. Cincinnati has one of the best defenses in the league ranking 5th against the run and 7th against the pass. This could be what makes or breaks this contest for the Bengals.
Minnesota is having a pretty down year. Before the season started, I never considered them a true contender, but I looked at them as a solid 8-8 team, give or take a loss or two. The season started with Christian Ponder playing some terrible quarterback, and since that time, it has just been a mess at that position. Matt Cassel has now stepped in and done a fairly decent job, especially last week’s performance against the Eagles where he threw for over 380 yards and two touchdowns in a 48-30 win. Not only did Cassel look to be a decent starter for now, but Adrian Peterson is back on the practice field since injuring himself on a freak play a few weeks ago. If AP can get back to 100%, and Cassel play some solid QB, this team could give Cincy a good battle this Sunday. But will they? That is the question. Every stat and every scenario I gave for Cincinnati was based on pure numbers and trends this season, while everything I just said about Minnesota is speculation and hypothetical. Can Minnesota make this a game and keep it within a touchdown? Absolutely. Will they? Well, 63% of the gamblers say no. We will talk more about that in a moment.
Bob’s Pick to Cover the Point Spread: The Bengals come in as seven point faves, actually, I have seen it in many books at 7.5 and that hook is scary. I am glad my book is the even seven. Anyway, like I stated a few moments ago, the sports bettors who have already laid bets seem to like the Bengals to cover… 62% of the action is on that side. That is not a staggering amount, but it does make you think. I am going to go total contrarian in this game. Why? Hell if I know. But something deep down inside me says that Cincinnati has to fight hard to win this one. They will win, yes, but I think Minnesota stays scrappy and makes the Bengals earn it. I like Cincinnati in this one by a score of 23-20. PICK MINNESOTA +7