NFL Game Preview & Free ATS Pick: Bengals vs Buccaneers

The Cincinnati Bengals will try to put a stop to their two-game skid when they host the Tampa Bay Buccaneers this weekend. Kickoff is scheduled for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 28, at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fans in local markets can find the game on Fox.

The Bengals are currently listed as 4-point favorites at home. However, early betting has favored the Bucs, bringing the line down after Cincinnati opened the week as 6-point favorites. The over/under for the game is 54 points. Be sure to check out a full list of the Week 8 NFL odds.

Bengals vs Buccaneers Vegas Betting Line & Game Preview

Just a few weeks ago, the Bengals were 4-1 and running away with the AFC North. However, all of that has changed rather quickly. It started with a home loss to the Steelers and continued last week when Cincy was blown out by the Chiefs on Sunday Night Football 45-10. Those two losses are surely a shot to the team’s confidence, not to mention a hit to their early-season momentum.

Suddenly, the Bengals are a mere 4-3 and a game behind the Steelers in the AFC North. Cincinnati’s November schedule is no cake walk either. If the Bengals can’t snap their losing streak this week, they’ll run the risk of their season spiraling out of control with games against the Saints and the Ravens lined up after next week’s bye.

The Buccaneers, on the other hand, put an end to their three-game losing streak last week with an overtime win over the Browns. Despite the win, Tampa Bay still has the worst defense in the NFL. Jameis Winston is also struggling to find consistency since his return, as he was responsible for three of the team’s four turnovers a week ago.

At 3-3 and two games off the pace in the NFC South, it’s do-or-die time for the Bucs. Tampa Bay hits the road in three of the next four weeks. It’s safe to say they have to at least split those four games if they want to remain in the playoff race heading down the stretch. To make that happen, they have to build off the momentum of last week’s win, even if they still have a lot of things to clean up.

Free NFL Betting Prediction: Buccaneers +4

To be honest, I’m not a huge fan of either of these teams right now. Both got off to promising starts but have turned into train wrecks over the last few weeks. The defense has been the biggest problem for both teams, which makes it hard to believe that either team will be able to win comfortably. To me, that makes the underdog Bucs and the points the smart pick.

The biggest question heading into this game is what version of Andy Dalton will show up. Will it be the Dalton who set the league on fire in September or the one who has started to look like the Dalton of recent years during the team’s two-game skid. Even against a pair of lackluster defensive teams the last two weeks, Dalton has struggled, exposing Cincinnati’s lack of a consistent rushing attack. If Joe Mixon was kept under wraps last week against the Chiefs, putting way too much pressure on Dalton to carry the team.

Of course, the Bengals will get a chance to turn things around against the NFL’s worst defense. That being said, the Tampa Bay defense was surprisingly adequate last week against the Browns. That could be an aberration and the result of facing a rookie quarterback. However, that performance also came after firing defensive coordinator Mike Smith, so it’s also possible the Bucs have figured out some things under new leadership.

On the other side of the ball, it’s important to remember that the Bucs can be explosive offensively. Winston has been uneven and turnover prone in his three games back. But we can’t forget that the Bucs have some dynamic playmakers. Despite Winston’s faults, he’s almost always able to post big numbers and put his team in a position to score points. 

Moreover, the Bengals look vulnerable on the defensive side of the ball. Dalton’s early-season brilliance helped to cover up some of their problems, but the fact is the Bengals have given up at least 23 points in all but one game this year. They are giving up five yards per carry on the ground, so even a bad rushing team like Tampa Bay has a chance to run the ball and open things up for Winston to take shots down the field.

All things considered, I’m actually more confident in the Tampa Bay offense than I am Cincinnati’s offense. That can change in a hurry if Winston continues to turn the ball over. However, even on the road, I think the Bucs will be able to score when they need to and keep this game close. I don’t see the Bengals being able to get the stops they need to close out a win, so I’ll take my chances with Tampa Bay at least beating the spread.

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