With only 2 games remaining, the Detroit Lions are still hunting their prey as they try to surpass a few teams ahead of them in the NFC Wild Card race. This weekend, the Lions need a victory over the Cincinnati Bengals in order to keep pace with the Falcons who currently hold the last playoff spot. Fortunately for Detroit, the Bengals have been eliminated from playoff contention and they’ve already packed it in for the season. Kickoff inside Paul Brown Stadium is at 1 PM ET.
Since 2001, these two teams have played 4 times with the Bengals going 3-1 during that span. The last time these teams squared off was back in 2013 and the Bengals won that game 27-24. The last time the Lions played in Cincinnati was 2009 and the Bengals won that game 23-13.
The Lions (8-6) have played better on the road than at home as they’ve posted a 5-2 road mark on the season. They come into this matchup having won 2 straight games and still alive in the NFC playoff race. Detroit is facing a lifeless Bengals team that appears to have quit on the season. It’s the perfect opportunity for the Lions to catch up to the Falcons as they play the Saints this weekend. Will Detroit play down to their competition this weekend or smash the Bengals like they should?
The Bengals (5-9) are 3-4 at home and come into this matchup having lost 3 straight games. Cincinnati played their worst football of the season last weekend when they lost 34-7 at Minnesota. In fact, over the last 2 weeks, the Bengals have been outscored 67-14. Will the Bengals show some pride this weekend or will they lay down for another team?
The spread opened with the Bengals getting 3 points. Since then, the spread has climbed up to 4.5 points for the Bengals. The Over/Under opened at 43.5 points and has gone up slightly to 44 total points.
I am very surprised that this spread isn’t higher. The Bengals have quit on the season. Their head coach is leaving after the season ends and they have key players out for this week’s game. Additionally, their offense has gone into hibernation as they’ve only scored 11.3 ppg over the last 3 weeks. On the season, the Bengals average just 16.6 ppg, 286 total ypg and just 77 rushing ypg. In other words, the Bengals have one of the worst offenses in the NFL and it’s not going to get any better until next year.
Bengals QB Andy Dalton has had a ho-hum season where he’s still under 3,000 passing yards. Most franchise QB’s have already gone over that mark, but not Dalton. The Bengals passing attack only averages 209 passing ypg. Over the last 2 weeks, Dalton threw for 113 and 141 passing yards, 1 TD, and 3 interceptions. His QBR was 2.5 and 26, while his QB rating was 59.7 and 27.3. These numbers are just embarrassing and I don’t expect him to really turn things around this weekend despite going against a pass defense that allows 263 ypg.
This game is all about the Detroit Lions playing for their playoff lives and I believe they will surpass their season average of 25.6 ppg as they cruise to a much needed victory. Look for Stafford to take advantage of a weakened Bengals defense. On the season, Stafford already has 3,920 passing yards, 25 TDs and 9 interceptions. I expect him to get 3 more TDs this weekend and at least 250 yards. The Bengals won’t be able to stop this passing attack, which is one of the best in the league.
Neither team has much of a running game. As mentioned above, the Bengals average just 77 rushing ypg. But, they will get Joe Mixon back this weekend after the rookie missed the last two games. He should give the Bengals a boost, but I don’t see it being enough. Detroit averages just 77.4 rushing ypg, so this weekend’s contest will once again, come down to Stafford.
Lions’ receiver Marvin Jones is a former Bengals player who is actually performing just as well as Cincinnati’s all-pro receiver A.J. Green. Jones has 54 receptions for 970 yards and 8 TDs. Green has 67 receptions for 980 yards and 8 TDs. I believe that these two former teammates will battle it out this weekend as Dalton will rely heavily on Green and Stafford will try to hit a few deep throws to Jones.
In the end, I see the Lions pulling away from an uninspired Bengals team to win 27-17. Detroit keeps their playoff hopes alive and the Bengals will turn their attention to their offseason plans.
Detroit is 11-5 ATS in their last 16 games against teams with a losing record, 4-2 ATS in their last 6 road games this year, and 7-3 ATS when the total is between 42.5 and 49 points. The Bengals are 1-2 ATS in games against the NFC North this year and 3-4 ATS in home games this season.