Game: Cincinnati Bengals at Washington Football Team
Time: 8:00 PM ET
Odds: Bengals +5.5, Washington -5.5
Anyone expecting Joe Burrow tonight for Cincinnati will be a bit disappointed. Bengals head coach Zac Taylor announced that Burrow will not play this week. Taylor wants to make sure his quarterback is ready to go for the regular season. Remember, Burrow tore an ACL late last season.
Tonight, the Bengals will go up against a Washington team coming off an NFC East title. Head coach Ron Rivera has one of the better defenses in the NFL. That unit was second last season in total defense just behind the LA Rams.
Rivera also played his starters a little more than other teams in the league last week. The Bengals are coming off a poor season, but they are an improving defense. Cincy was an underdog last week at Tampa Bay and the Bengals defense gave up just 14 points in a 19-14 win over the defending Super Bowl champions.
Tonight’s total is a low one at 34.5 and with these two defenses, the Under may be a strong play. Cincinnati recorded two picks, a fumble recovery, and had four sacks in their win last week. Washington probably won’t play guys like Chase Young all that much, but they will still frustrate the Bengals offense. They did the same thing last week against New England.
Neither offense is all that prolific. Washington will start QB Ryan Fitzpatrick and he is likely to play quite a bit. The problem is that Washington is still trying to get used to the offense with the veteran quarterback in charge. Rivera playing guys like Fitzpatrick and WR Terry McLaurin more than usual is one of the reasons why Washington is favored by 5.5 points.
With Brandon Allen at quarterback for Cincy, there is value on the Bengals against the spread. Allen has experience as a starter in the league. Plus, preseason underdogs of 5.5 or more cover more often than not.
In preseason games featuring inter-conference matchups, underdogs cover about 52 percent of the time. When the spread is at least 5.5 points, the number of dogs that cover rises dramatically. Since 2004, underdogs of +5.5 or more are 40-25 in NFL preseason games.
A spread this high is uncommon in the preseason where many games are toss-ups. That puts more value on the underdog to cover. It’s something, at the very least, bettors should consider when betting tonight’s game.
The other, of course, is the total where two good defenses go up against two offenses that are average at best.