Free NFL Picks: Bengals at Dolphins Odds for Week 9
by Alan Matthews - 10/29/2013
The Cincinnati Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season, and I wasn't overly optimistic entering this season that they would in 2013. Sure, I thought they might win the AFC North and had a terrific defense. I loved their draft in landing Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert and North Carolina running back Gio Bernard. My concern was that Andy Dalton wasn't a good enough quarterback to win playoff games.
I'm starting to change my mind. Dalton was 19-of-30 for 325 yards and a career-high five touchdown passes in Sunday's 49-9 destruction of the New York Jets. It was the Bengals' largest margin of victory since a 45-10 win against Chicago in 2009 and their first win by at least 40 since 1989. Cincinnati has won four straight, and in the past three games Dalton has thrown for at least 325 yards and three touchdowns in each. These haven't been against lousy defenses, either. OK, maybe Detroit's is pretty bad, but the Bills and Jets both have very good units. Dalton is on pace to break Carson Palmer's franchise record for passing yards and tie Palmer's team mark of 32 TD passes.
Cincinnati seems a lock to win the division with a two-game lead over second-place Baltimore. The Bengals are huge -1000 Bovada favorites to take the North. The big key is getting a home playoff game. The past two years, Cincinnati has had to go to Houston in the wild-card round, and the offense did nothing, losing both. Cincinnati has started 6-2 under Coach Marvin Lewis three times and made the playoffs in all three.
As for Miami, it started 3-0 and looked like a legit challenger to New England, but it has dropped four straight. The Fins dominated the first half Sunday in New England and led 17-3 but seemed to fall apart when a field goal attempt early in the third quarter clanked off the upright. New England then scored the next 24 points. The Fins better win this game. Why? Since 1978, when the NFL switched to a 16-game regular-season schedule, 10.6 percent of teams to have a four-game skid during a season have still made the playoffs. Just 1.7 percent that lost five straight did so.
Bengals at Dolphins Betting Story Lines
The Dolphins suffered a big injury in Sunday's loss as receiver Brandon Gibson was lost to a season-ending knee injury. He was second on the team with 30 catches and tied for first with three TDs, all in the past two games. It already was a weak spot for Miami with Mike Wallace looking like a huge bust. Now Rishard Matthews will get plenty of playing time, and he has just eight catches on the year. If either Brian Hartline or Wallace gets hurt, the Fins will have the worst receiving group in the NFL.
Ryan Tannehill needs all the help he can get as he seems to be regressing. He had three second-half turnovers against New England and has given it away 10 times (seven picks) during the four-game skid. He played quite well in the season-opening winning streak. Once again, his offensive line has to take a chunk of the blame as Tannehill was sacked six more times by New England. He has gone down 32 times, most in the NFL. Teams are blitzing more and more because Tannehill has a tendency to cough up the ball when hurried.
Cincinnati will be without linebacker Rey Maualuga on Thursday as he's expected to miss a month with a sprained MCL -- it was good news as the team feared a torn ACL. Maualuga is second on the team with 51 tackles. Also out is safety Taylor Mays, the team's nickel linebacker. Left tackle Andrew Whitworth, a Pro Bowler, also left early Sunday, but he hasn't been ruled out for Thursday yet. Starting receiver Mohamed Sanu also is iffy after suffering a shoulder injury against the Jets. Top cornerback Leon Hall was lost for the season a couple of weeks ago.
That Bengals defense returned two Geno Smith picks for touchdowns on Sunday, the first time Cincinnati has had two return INT picks since 1984. There also may have been a new fantasy star unveiled in Bengals receiver Marvin Jones. He had eight catches for 122 yards and four touchdowns, the first NFL player with four TD catches in six years. He's just the third Bengal ever with four TDs in a game of any kind, joining Larry Kinnebrew (1984) and Corey Dillon (1997). If Sanu is out, Jones will get plenty more opportunities.
Bengals at Dolphins NFL Week 9 Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, Cincinnati opened as a one-point favorite with a total of 42.5. The Bengals are 5-2-1 ATS (1-2-1 on the road) and 5-3 “over/under” (3-1 at home). The Dolphins are 3-4 ATS (1-2 at home) and 5-2 O/U (3-0 at home). Cincinnati is 5-2-1 ATS in its past eight road games against teams with a losing home record. Cincinnati is 7-1 ATS in its past eight games after scoring more than 30 points in its previous game. Miami is 1-4 ATS in its past five vs. teams with a winning record. The over is 18-4 in the Bengals' past 22 following a win of at least 14 points. The under is 5-0 in Miami's past five Thursday games. The under is 9-2 in the Dolphins' past 11 October games. The road team has covered the past five in this series.
Free NFL Picks: Bengals at Dolphins Betting Week 9 Predictions
Miami has always been a tough opponent for the Bengals, winning 14 of 19 regular-season meetings. In Week 5 last season in Cincinnati, the Fins won, 17-13. Tannehill didn't turn the ball over, while Dalton threw two picks. One was by Rashad Jones at midfield with 1:22 left as Dalton was attempting to drive for a winning TD. It was definitely not offensively pretty with neither team reaching the 300-yard mark and combining for five giveaways and 6-for-27 on third down.
Even though Miami is 1-2 overall at home, it could easily be 3-0. The losses to Baltimore and Buffalo both came down to the wire. Both of the Bengals losses are on the road, and while they have won two straight away games, both of those also came down to the wire. Thus, I like the desperate home team here. Also the under.
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