Recommended Bet: Cincinnati (+5) over Atlanta

by Brady

Cincinnati @ Atlanta
Vegas: ATL +1.195
DomModel: ATL -5
Recommendation: CIN +5

Key injuries:
Cincinnati Bengals:
-WR AJ Green injured his groin during his week 3 game, but expects to play week 4. He was limited in practice Wednesday (9/26), but the Bengals seem optimistic. He is fine.
-RB Joe Mixon was hurt in week 2 (knee) on TNF and will be out 2-4 weeks. Profootballdoc is optimistic it will only be a week or two. He did not practice Wednesday (9/26).
-RB Geo Bernard (thigh) was limited in practice Wednesday (9/26).
-OL Billy Price is expected to be out two weeks with a foot issue (posted 9/20). He was INACTIVE week 3.
-DE Michael Jordan is expected to miss several weeks (knee). He was INACTIVE week 3.
-LB Vontaze Burfict is still suspended the first four games (would it be easier to tell you when he isn’t suspended?)
-DT Ryan Glasgow (torn ACL) is out for the year.

Atlanta Falcons:
-WR Julio Jones (calf) did not practice Wednesday (9/19) or Thursday (9/20), but says on Thursday (9/20) it was “precautionary.” He returned to practice Friday (9/21) and played week 3. He was limited in practice Wednesday (9/26). He is fine.
-LB Deion Jones (foot) was placed on IR.
-S Keanu Neal tore his ACL in the opener.
-S Ricardo Allen tore his Achilles and was placed on season ending IR.
-RB Devonta Freeman (knee) was INACTIVE for weeks 2 and 3. He did not practice Wednesday (9/26).
-G Andy Levitre aggravated his existing elbow injury during his week 2 game and did not return. He is heading to IR.

Breakdown:
When Cincinnati has the ball:
Cincinnati’s offense has been sneaky good so far this year. Their offensive line – particularly the right side – has been trash, but the rest has been firing on all cylinders. The Red Rocket has been playing some of his best football. You may look at his last game against the Panthers and see 4 picks, but only one was his fault. Of the other three, one was a deflection, one was a miscommunication, and the other was a hail mary. On a throw for throw basis, Dalton has impressed.

Image result for andy dalton

Joe Mixon has had an incredible start to his sophomore campaign, but unfortunately he injured his knee week 2. Although the initial prognosis was 2-4 weeks, some are saying he has a chance to play this week. Last week Gio Bernard handled 100% of the RB touches, and he’s a fine replacement even if Mixon can’t go. As a pass catching specialist, Bernard is in a particularly great matchup against a Falcons defense that cannot for the life of them stop running backs as receivers.

AJ Green is still AJ Green, and there really isn’t much to say beyond that. Though he did injury his penis groin last week, the expectation is he should be good to go. Touchdown machine Tyler Eifert appears to be fully healthy (knock on ALL of the wood) as his snap count is holing steady in the 40s and he’s running over 30 routes in his last two games after being limited week 1. The biggest surprise on this offense has been WR Tyler Boyd. Playing primarily out of the slot, Boyd has racked up 16 targets, 12 catches, 223 yards, and 2 touchdowns in his last two games.

I’m sure this offense will eventually cool down, there’s plenty of reasons to believe they’ll have success on the road against Atlanta.

Atlanta’s defense:
I’d feel bad for Atlanta’s defense if we weren’t betting against them every week. Though they already lost key contributes Keanu Neal (ACL) and Dion Jones (foot), last week they lost their other starting safety Ricardo Allen (Achilles). This defense started the year with some serious talent, but they’re running out fast. They were a bad defense last year, and they’ve been bad so far this year.

In particular, they cannot seem to stop running backs as receivers.  Christian McCaffrey and Alvin Kamara combined the last two weeks for 35 targets, 29 receptions, and 226 yards. Granted, both of those players are #good at football, but THEY ARE FUCKING RUNNING BACKS. As in running, aka not receiving.

I do think the Falcons have two solid corners (Trufont and Alford), but slot cornerback Brian Poole may have to move to safety to make up for the injuries to Neal and Allen.

TL;DR Conclusion: The Bengals offense is playing well and the Falcons are banged up. Cincinnati is perfectly matched up to exploit Atlanta with their backs as receivers as well as Tyler Boyd and Tyler Eifert running out of the slot. I haven’t even mentioned AJ Green yet. So yeah, I love the matchup here.

When Atlanta has the ball:
Unfortunately for Atlanta, the injuries don’t end on defense. They lost LG Andy Levitre during their week 2 game, and last week we got a feel for how things would go for Wes Schweitzer, who replaced Levitre. Schweitzer is a 2016 6th round pick who struggled last year when Levitre went down, and we saw more of the same week 3. This is still a solid offensive line, but Levitre is a big loss.

Devonte Freeman hasn’t played since week 1. Since he did not practice to start the week, I’m guessing he needs another week off.

The good news for the Falcons is their rookie WR Calvin Ridley broke out last game. They still have Julio Jones, Matt Ryan is a solid QB, and Tevin Coleman does a lot of the same things Freeman does (just slightly worse). This offense is banged up, but solid.

Cincinnati’s defense:
Cincinnati hasn’t had the toughest schedule of all time (@Indy against Andrew Luck’s half an arm, at home against Baltimore and not elite Joe Flacco, and on the road against Carolina), but it’s worth pointing out that they’ve played well against the run as well as in coverage. Dre Kirkpatrick and William Jackson have both played well at corner, while Geno Atikins has played brilliantly against the run while Vontaze Burfict is suspended. That said, they did lose DT Ryan Glasgow, who was in the midst of a breakout year.

This is a respectable defense, but they still have some holes and injuries/suspensions that they’re dealing with.

TL:DR Conclusion: I like both offenses in this one. The model thinks the Bengals should be able to keep this close enough to cover a 5 point spread, and I don’t see why not given how the Bengals offense matches up against the Falcons. This bet has me pumped up.

Errr.. Nevermind.

That’s it for now, bitches.

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