Cincinnati Bengals vs. Arizona Cardinals
Two teams with a chance of making the playoffs meet as the Cincinnati Bengals host the Arizona Cardinals. The Bengals are -4.5 point favorites over the Cardinals with an over/under point total set at 40.
There wasn’t much of an expectation this season for the Cincinnati Bengals as they were going with a rookie QB and were coming off of a disappointing year last season but Marvin Lewis’ team has played well enough to have a chance of going to the playoffs. The Bengals are tied with the Jets for the remaining Wild Card spot in the AFC and neither have a cake walk in or it could be another team that sneaks in, as of right now those two have the inside track. Cincinnati kept their playoff hopes alive by beating the St. Louis Rams on Sunday. Rookie Andy Dalton has looked like a rookie at times but most of the time he has looked like a veteran and probably the reason why some NFL coaches will have nothing less than a four year college starter as their QB. Cedric Benson has been sharp carrying the football and while the running game was stuffed against the Rams several times in short yardage situations, they have come through for the better part of the year. A.J. Green has been one of the top rookies in the NFL but his status is unknown for this one as he injured his shoulder but Jermaine Gresham and Jerome Simpson give Dalton some nice targets as well. Marvin Lewis has done a nice job with his defense as they allow 314.1 yards per game 20.2 points. Thomas Howard has 88 tackles and Rey Maualuga and Reggie Nelson each have 76 but there has been a lot more to this unit. Kicker Mike Nugent has also been the most accurate kicker in the NFL this year. It is going to take a team effort on both sides of the ball for Cincinnati to be playing in the post season this year.
The Arizona Cardinals have won four games in a row and what one looked like a lost season now has the chances of becoming a playoff year with some wins and a few more bounces going their way. The Cardinals will need a lot of help but they have been helping themselves plenty of late with solid play. With Kevin Kolb injured John Skelton has played plenty and while he’s thrown 10 interceptions and just eight touchdowns, he is winning games. Beanie Wells is looking better than he ever has since entering the NFL rushing for 994 yards and 10 touchdowns. Larry Fitzgerald has 65 catches for 1,157 yards and seven touchdowns and is just a handful to cover, Early Doucet has 51 catches and five touchdowns, and Andre Roberts has 41 catches. The Cardinals defense allows 358 yards per game and 21.8 points. Daryl Washington has 84 tackles as does Paris Lenon and first round draft choice Patrick Peterson has been outstanding both in coverage and in the return game. While Arizona doesn’t seem to overwhelm anybody they seem to play strong in the second half and have given themselves chances to win it then and have been able to take advantage of those opportunities.
Cincinnati is 7-2 against the spread in their last nine games following a win, 7-21-1 against the spread as a favorite, and 0-4-2 against the spread in their last six games overall. Arizona is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games as an underdog, 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games overall, and 3-7 against the spread in their last 10 road games against a team with a winning home record.
The total in this one is set at 40 and while it looks to be a modest number I don’t see the defenses here allowing a lot in what amounts to a playoff game as the loser is likely out so for my pick I will go with under 40.