Oskeim Sports previews Sunday’s game between the Cincinnati Bengals and Indianapolis Colts and recommends taking the available points with the Bengals as one of its free NFL picks.
Oskeim also suggests making a small wager on the Baltimore Ravens as one of his free NFL picks for September 9. Be sure to visit daily for more free NFL picks from the #1 documented sports handicapping service in the industry.
Indianapolis quarterback Andrew Luck will be playing in a regular-season game for the first time since Week 17 of the 2016 season. Luck has to be concerned with the fact that left tackle Anthony Castonzo returned to practice for the first time in five weeks (hamstring) and is responsible for protecting the franchise quarterback’s blind side.
Head coach Frank Reich has not determined whether Castonzo is capable of playing on Sunday and the Colts lack depth at the left tackle position.
Indianapolis has three first- or second-year running backs on the roster. Marlon Mack is the projected starter but he missed the majority of the preseason with a hamstring injury. If Mack is limited on Sunday, Jordan Wilkins, a fifth-round draft pick out of Mississippi would assume the bulk of the carries out of the backfield.
The Colts also have depth issues at wide receiver after rookie Deon Cain suffered a torn ACL and general manager Chris Ballard made the decision to release Reece Fountain.
It’s the second consecutive year that Ballard has released a rookie selected in the fifth round or lower, leaving Indianapolis with a young and unproven group of receivers for the 2018-19 campaign. Perhaps the most surprising move was the decision to release John Simon, who was the Colts most productive defensive ends during the preseason.
The Colts could have one of the worst pass rushes in the league this season based on how rookie Kemoko Turay and second-year player Tarell Bashan performed in the preseason. Indianapolis finished with a 4.65% sack rate (29th) last season and it could hit rock bottom in 2018-19.
Cincinnati has upgraded its offensive line by replacing center Russell Bodine with first-round draft pick Billy Price and by acquiring left tackle Cordy Glenn. Price won the Rimington Trophy as the nation’s top center and Glenn only allowed quarterback pressure on 5% of his career pass blocking snaps.
Quarterback Andy Dalton will have more time to throw the ball and the Bengals’ ground attack should be vastly improved behind one of the conference’s most improved offensive lines. Wide receiver John Ross ad a strong preseason and is poised for a breakout campaign, while tight end Tyler Eifert and receiver A.J. Green anchor a much-improved offense.
The Bengals were significantly better than their 7-9 record last season as they lost several games after leading by at least seven points in the final four minutes of regulation.
For example, Cincinnati allowed game-tying touchdown passes to Aaron Rodgers and Ben Roethlisberger, while yielding a game-winning touchdown pass with 36 seconds left to Marcus Mariota. Positive regression in 2018-19 together with an upgraded roster should catapult the Bengals to 8-9 wins this season.
From a technical standpoint, Dalton is 8-2-1 ATS as an underdog in September affairs, including 5-0-1 ATS in non-division games. The Bengals are 17-7-3 ATS in September road games under head coach Marvin Lewis, including 11-2-3 ATS in non-division clashes.
The Colts have lost four straight season openers and are a woeful 1-9 ATS in their past ten Week One affairs. With Indianapolis standing at 0-6 ATS since September 7, 2008 as a favorite in season openers, take the Bengals as one of Oskeim Sports’ free NFL picks for Sunday, September 9.
Oskeim Sports’ Free NFL Picks for September 9:
- Cincinnati Bengals (+2.5) (-110) over Indianapolis Colts
- Baltimore Ravens (-7.5) (-105) over Buffalo Bills