The Cincinnati Bengals will be trying to avoid a 0-2 start to the season in Week 2 when they play host to the San Francisco 49ers. Kickoff is at 1:00 EST on Sunday, September 15 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fans in local markets will be able to watch the game on Fox.
According to the Week 2 NFL odds, the Bengals are 2-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is 45 points.
Among teams that lost in Week 1, the Bengals were one of the more impressive. They showed no fear in going to Seattle and actually held a lead heading into the fourth quarter. Despite out-gaining the Seahawks by nearly 200 yards, the Bengals turned the ball over three times, which ultimately prevented what would have been a considerable upset.
Cincinnati is almost facing a must-win game in Week 2. The Bengals are set to hit the road three of the next four weeks, including road games against the Steelers and Ravens. Things could spiral out of control quickly if the Bengals start 0-2. They’re already predicted by many to finish last in the NFC North, so odds are they won’t be able to survive a slow start.
The 49ers, on the other hand, scored a big road win in Week 1, beating Tampa Bay 31-17. Of course, it should be noted that the win wasn’t as comfortable as the score indicates. A late pick-six by the San Francisco defense extended the lead from six points to 14 points. The 49ers could have just as easily lost if the Bucs had orchestrated a successful two-minute drive to end the game.
But the 49ers managed to escape with a win in Week 1, something they needed after last year’s disastrous 4-12 campaign. The schedule dictates for the 49ers to make two trips to the east coast to begin the season. However, the team declined to go home after Sunday’s win, deciding instead to spend the week in Ohio, making the early start time in Week 2 less of an issue.
The 49ers won a game they needed last week, but now the Bengals are the team that’s desperate for a win. Cincinnati looked far better than expected in Week 1, and now they’ll have the benefit of playing at home. With the spread at only two points, I’ll take my chances on the Bengals winning by a field goal to cover.
Again, San Francisco’s 31-17 win over Tampa Bay was probably the most misleading result of Week 1. The 49ers were the beneficiaries of a dreadful performance by Tampa quarterback Jameis Winston, who threw three interceptions, two of which were returned for a touchdown. Obviously, that bodes well for the San Francisco defense moving forward. But I can’t help but think it was a little bit of fool’s gold. The 49ers struggled to stop the run against a Bucs team that was terrible on the ground last year, so I still have some questions about that side of the ball.
On a related note, the San Francisco offense was only responsible for 16 of the 31 points the team scored last week. Penalties took touchdowns off the board and stalled drives, forcing the 49ers to settle for three field goals and just one touchdown. More importantly, Jimmy Garoppolo didn’t exactly set the world on fire in his first game back from last year’s ACL injury. He had less than 200 yards passing, and the 49ers didn’t make any plays on the outside, as tight end George Kittle did most of the damage in the passing game. Things may not get any better this week with running back Tevin Coleman sitting out after leaving last week’s game with an injury.
Admittedly, the Cincinnati offense has some questions as well after last week’s game. Running back is Joe Mixon is questionable after spraining his ankle last week. The Bengals will need him if they expect to expose the San Francisco run defense. Of course, Mixon had just 10 yards on six carries before getting hurt, and backup Giovani Bernard wasn’t much better.
Cincinnati is also playing without A.J. Green. On the bright side, John Ross finally showed up after being a non-factor for the first two seasons of his career. The tandem of John Ross and Tyler Boyd could potentially do some damage. Andy Dalton somehow managed to throw for over 400 yards without throwing an interception. On the other hand, Dalton lost two fumbles and was sacked five times, so there are some issues for the Cincinnati offense to iron out.
All things considered, this could end up being a close, low-scoring affair. To me, that kind of game could favor the Bengals. With Ross and Boyd, they have the targets on the outside who can punish a mistake while the 49ers are lacking those kinds of playmakers on the outside. The Bengals are also at home and a little desperate, so I’ll eat the two points and look for Cincinnati to cover.