One team is bound to pick up their first win of the season this week as the Cincinnati Bengals host the Arizona Cardinals in a battle of winless teams. Game time is set for 1:00 EST on Sunday, October 6 at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Fans in local markets can watch the game on Fox.
According to our Week 5 NFL odds, the Bengals are 3-point favorites at home. The over/under for the game is set at 47.5 points.
Of the two teams, the Cardinals have come the closest to getting a win with their tie against the Lions in Week 1. However, things have headed downhill since then for Arizona. They managed a close loss to the Ravens in Week 2 but have lost back-to-back home games to the Panthers and Seahawks by 18 points and 17 points, respectively.
At 0-3-1, the Cardinals are running out of time to get things turned around and avoid another lost season. To make matters worse, they play three of their next four games and five of their next seven games on the road. Oddly enough, the Cardinals might have played their best game this season came on the road. However, they still don’t have any wins and their schedule isn’t exactly favorable if they want to salvage their season.
Of course, the Bengals are coming off a loss in another game between previously winless teams, falling 27-3 to the Steelers on Monday night. Cincinnati has managed to stay competitive in close losses this year to the Seahawks and Bills, but they’ve also suffered lopsided losses to the 49ers and Steelers, putting them at 0-4 a month into the season.
The silver lining is that after playing three of their first four games on the road, the Bengals are home for three of their next five games. However, they have a trip to London at the end of the month, so the team’s travels are far from over. That makes it vital to get a win this week in just their second home game of the season.
It’s never easy to make a choice between two bad teams. While the Bengals being home against a west coast team should give them enough of an advantage, they’re coming back from a short week and looked dreadful last week. After that performance, I don’t trust Cincinnati enough to eat the points, so I feel safer leaning toward Arizona and the points.
At times this season, the Cincinnati offense has displayed some promise. But they did nothing last week against a Pittsburgh defense that looked vulnerable early in the season. Joe Mixon has rushed for at least 60 yards in two straight weeks. But that’s still not enough from the Cincinnati rushing attack. The Bengals also gave up eight sacks last week, which is due in part to the lack of a running game. Against a team that features Chandler Jones and Terrell Suggs, keeping Andy Dalton protected in the pocket figures to be a problem for the Bengals again this week.
Worrying about his pass protection is the last thing Dalton needs right now. It’s bad enough that A.J. Green remains sidelined, but now John Ross is expected to miss time with a shoulder injury he suffered on Monday. Ross has been one of the few bright spots on the Cincinnati offense this year, catching three of the team’s five passing touchdowns. The Bengals are now down to Tyler Boyd and not much else on offense. Even an Arizona defense that’s been torched on a weekly basis this year should be able to keep the Cincinnati offense contained.
Of course, the Arizona offense has plenty of problems at the moment as well, most notably penalties that are killing drives. There’s also the matter of Kyler Murray being sacked 20 times in four games. Despite a concerted effort during the offseason, Arizona’s woes on the offensive line haven’t been fixed. Of those 20 sacks, 12 have come in the last two weeks, which is a big reason why Murray has seen his passing totals decline after throwing for over 300 yards in Weeks 1 and 2.
The good news for Arizona is that the Cincinnati defense has just five sacks in four games. The Bengals have also struggled to stop the run most of the year. That could help the Cardinals get David Johnson going after an uneven start to the season. If Arizona can get Johnson established and given Murray a little more time in the pocket, the offense should be able to find some traction and move the ball against the Cincinnati defense.
All things considered, the Arizona defense seems more likely to get on track this week than the Cincinnati offense. Neither team has done enough defensively this year, but with their injuries, the Bengals are going to have a hard time creating explosive plays. On the other hand, Murray’s athleticism alone should give the Cardinals a fighting chance in this game. I’ll take my chances with Arizona and the points.