Cincinnati Bengals at Oakland Raiders
Kickoff: 1:25 p.m. PT
Having action on a game that involves a winless team at this later juncture in the season can be more difficult than most. There are additional variables, after all.
In the case of this year’s Bengals, the last one standing — sort of — in being able to challenge for the dreaded 0-16 mark (accomplished only twice before), you have to wonder where they’re at mentally.
Well, after getting embarrassed by Lamar Jackson and the Baltimore Ravens (which included an incredible touchdown run by Jackson that will forever be on highlight reels), this has to be rock bottom for Cincinnati, having been downed by double-digit points in three consecutive weeks.
Even early in the trek to their current 0-9 record, the Bengals at least had a slew of competitive losses, even hanging with potential playoff teams like the Seattle Seahawks, Buffalo Bills, and (in the first meeting) the Ravens. This is where I believe the team reverts back closer to that form.
First of all, there’s no question the defense hasn’t been good. But talent-wise, it’s better than the numbers show, represented by a very good defensive line anchored by stud veterans Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap. Their presence will be extra crucial in limiting rookie sensation Josh Jacobs, who is especially hot at the moment after logging more than 100 scrimmage yards in four of his past five ballgames. This is a key point to the bet, as Oakland runs the ball 45.69 percent of the time, sixth-highest frequency in the league.
Quarterback Derek Carr is plenty capable of doing a lot of damage against this defense, too, of course, but I just think given Cincy’s current predicament that they put forth a spirited effort and at least prevent a real crooked number. It’s also worth noting that when these two clubs met last year, the Bengals managed to sack Carr five times — three by Atkins and two from underrated D-end Sam Hubbard.
But perhaps above all in deciding how this total plays out is the current state of affairs with the Bengals’ offense. Andy Dalton, despite still being a serviceable quarterback, was benched, paving the way for fourth-round pick Ryan Finley to make his first career start last week.
It really didn’t go well, as Finley strung together only 16-of-31 passes for 167 yards, one touchdown and a pair of turnovers (one interception, one lost fumble). Looking deeper into his performance, Finley actually finished with the fourth-lowest QBR (16.8) and worst Pro Football Focus grade (42.6) out of all starting QBs in Week 10.
It’s not going to get any easier in his second assignment, having to survive in a real hostile environment like the Black Hole. Plus, the club’s best wide-out, A.J. Green, is still on the sidelines with an ankle injury.
That is why another heavy dosage of the running game should be expected from this Finley-led offense. Last week, Joe Mixon received a career-high 30 carries (the Bengals ran the ball on 55.56 percent of their plays, more than anyone one else in Week 10 in fact) and while he did perform well with the extra work, it’s still a very conservative game plan that should dictate a slower pace and eat up clock. Play: UNDER 48.5 (-110)
Last Week’s Result: Vikings-Cowboys Under 49 (“loss”)
Zylbert’s 2019 NFL Over/Under Betting Record*: 6-5, Even
*Each bet graded as if it were to win 1 unit