While Week 1 featured a bucket of perspiration in reaching the Over 48 the Arizona at Detroit matchup, Week 2 produced quite the opposite effect as the Under 42 in the Niners at Seahawks clash cashed with ease. Now let’s just try to stay perfect and see what’s on tap for Week 3.
Matt Zylbert’s 2017 NFL Over/Under Betting Record: 2-0, +200
Week 1: ARI/DET O48 (WIN)
Week 2: SF/SEA U42 (WIN)
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 100 dollars/units
Cincinnati Bengals @ Green Bay Packers
OVER 44 (-120)
The way the Bengals have opened up the new campaign, you might be thinking it’s dangerous taking an over bet right now involving their offense, which has yet to score a touchdown in 2017. But in the right spot, they’re still capable of providing just enough to help such a bet. At the very least, they’re more than due.
Of course, it all starts with seventh-year quarterback Andy Dalton, who hasn’t yielded much optimism through the first two games. In fact, he’s recorded the lowest QB Rating (47.2) of any starter in pro football, and he’s also tied for the league-lead in interceptions with four. However, considering he’s never finished a season with a QBR below 80, we know he’s better than that. The 29-year-old is basically at rock bottom at the moment, but there’s precedence for this that supports Dalton may be on the verge of turning it around right away.
For instance, Cincinnati produced four losing streaks last year of at least two games, but check out these numbers Dalton put up in each game that followed the second or third consecutive loss: 108 of 166 (65.1 percent completion rate), 1,445 yards, seven touchdowns and zero interceptions. That’s over a sample size of five games that fit the criteria. In other words, the Red Rifle steps up when pitted against the utmost adversity.
And it’s not like he has a shortage of weapons around him. A.J. Green, as should be universally recognized, is one of the game’s premier receivers. The same could also apply to Dalton’s tight end Tyler Eifert, despite his slow start. And while Jeremy Hill, Giovani Bernard and rookie Joe Mixon have chipped in almost zilch thus far for the running game, the fact is they’re just way too talented a trio to keep struggling.
Either way, Cincinnati should probably be throwing the ball often and down the field. In this affair, they draw a Packers defense that has allowed 15 touchdowns on throws of 15-or-more yards since the beginning of 2016, most in the NFL over that span.
Arguably the most important factor when handicapping the offense entering this particular road matchup is that they’ll also be under the play-calling of new offensive coordinator Bill Lazor. While some understandably might fear what this does for the Bengals in their first game with a different mind calling the shots, it should actually do more damage to Green Bay as Cincinnati will give them a much different look and feel than what the Packers are studying on film leading up to the game.
The best way to gauge how different Lazor can be is by looking at when he last coached against the Pack, which came in 2014 while a member of the Dolphins’ coaching staff. Lazor made it a habit to spread the offense and defense out, throw the ball quickly, get favorable matchups and go up-tempo (a favorite term for any over bet). He also had his then-quarterback Ryan Tannehill in the shotgun a lot more times than not, which seemingly better suits the Bengals offense as well with weapons like Mixon and Bernard, who can create mismatches. Overall, it’s just going to be tougher for Green Bay to game-plan against.
There’s a reason most of this analysis was spent on Cincinnati’s offense and not their counterpart. That’s because Aaron Rodgers and Co. are pretty much as steady as it gets, especially when playing in front of the Lambeau Field faithful. Rodgers is out to another strong start in 2017, having already accumulated 654 yards on 61 of 92 (66.3 percent) passing, throwing three touchdowns versus two picks.
His receiving corps is as strong as ever, with the likes of Jordy Nelson, Davante Adams, Martellus Bennett and Randall Cobb all looking sharp in the early going. There are some injury concerns after Nelson had to leave the game Sunday evening, but he’s expected to play, while Cobb is questionable, but even if he sits there’s more than enough ammo here to still help churn out the usual offensive performance. Converted running back Ty Montgomery has also been a major help in the passing game, ranking third on the team in receptions with 11.
Simply put, this bet may come down to whether or not the Bengals can pick it up offensively. We know what a constant the Packers have been under Rodgers, and while the Bengals boast a very solid defense, they should have a tough time here matching up against this offense, being 0-2 and pressing while on the road in a hostile environment. So if Cincinnati can click offensively and create enough confusion in its first game under Lazor, this Over 44 bet will be live.