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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Detroit Lions Odds & Game Pick (2021)

by October 16, 2021
NFL Week 3 Early Bets and Trends

Two teams that experienced incredibly heartbreaking losses square off this weekend. The Cincinnati Bengals couldn’t make a kick to beat Green Bay and ultimately lost in overtime. Meanwhile, the Detroit Lions forced a fumble, scored a touchdown and two-point conversion, and took a 17-16 lead with 37 seconds left. But the Lions did what they did best and gave up a game-winning field goal as the clock expired.

So, which of these teams can get off the mat? Let’s breakdown this intriguing conference crossover:

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Details

  • Opening line: Cincinnati -1
  • Current line: Cincinnati -3.5
  • Total 47.5

Bengals are improving but still have fatal flaws 

The Cincinnati Bengals aren’t a bad team! There’s some hope in quarterback Joe Burrow and his skill weapons, Tee Higgins, Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, and Tyler Boyd.

But two major problems are putting a damper on everything: Cincinnati’s offensive line and its coaching.

Both are pretty miserable, but let’s start with the line. The Bengals decided to take Burrow’s college teammate, Chase, instead of tackle Penei Sewell, who they’ll go up against this week. While Chase has undoubtedly paid dividends, this offensive line is still pretty bad. The Bengals have given up 14 sacks on the season and have a pass block win rate of just 54%. In addition, burrow’s already been banged up this season and most recently had to go to the hospital for a throat contusion.

Zac Taylor is also to blame for not getting the most out of the talent he’s got to work with. The Bengals rank 16th in offensive DVOA, 18th in passing DVOA, and 19th in rushing DVOA. The metrics say they’re just an average offense, and play calling is a big reason why.

Cincinnati’s backfield is also in flux, as Joe Mixon is dealing with an ankle injury that limited him in Week 5. Meanwhile, backup Samaje Perine is on the COVID-19/Reserve list after leading the backfield last week.

Defensively, the Bengals have taken some strides. The unit ranks 7th in overall DVOA, 12th in pass DVOA, and seven in rushing DVOA. Unlike the offense, Cincinnati’s defense isn’t filled with much star power. However, it’s a solid unit that should be able to bottle up a Detroit offense that’s struggling at the moment.

It’s also fair to wonder how motivated Cincinnati will be for a road trip to Detroit after last week’s brutal loss. But, of course, they also have an enormous road trip to Baltimore coming up next week.

Lions can’t close

Dan Campbell is not a joke like some expected. The Lions probably should be 2-3. They play hard. They try. But they fail to execute, especially late in games. Detroit’s given up two game-winning drives in the closing seconds. At some point, you have to wonder how much they have left.

Offensively, the Lions are pretty subpar. Jared Goff is a turnover machine and has four giveaways in his last two games. The passing game is non-existent, as Detroit ranks 28th in passing DVOA and average only 5.6 net yards per attempt. The Bengals didn’t have any reputable receivers but will have to play without Tyrell Williams and Quintez Cephus. Oh, and T.J. Hockenson has been dealing with a knee injury the last two weeks and hasn’t been close to the same player as he was to begin the year.

Things are pretty bleak in the Motor City. Detroit’s biggest offensive strength is its offensive line, but center Frank Ragnow is now out for the year, and left tackle Taylor Decker likely won’t be able to go this week.

Defensively, things aren’t much better. They’re worse. Detroit is 29th in defensive DVOA, 27th in pass-defense DVOA, and 28th in rush defense DVOA. Campbell has this unit play hard, and it’s just not very good.

Bottom Line

So, who do you back? The more talented Bengals coached by Zac Taylor? Or the talentless Lions that play hard for Dan Campbell?

How about neither?

Taylor is a really tough coach to back on the road. The Bengals are 2-14-1 on the road straight up under Taylor. They’ve closed as a road favorite just once since 2019 and didn’t cover. So it’s an unusual spot for a Bengals team and a coach I just can’t back.

That being said, I don’t trust a shorthanded Detroit offense to move the ball effectively against a pretty good Bengals defense.

Therefore, I’m going with the under. I have questions about Cincinnati’s motivation in a sandwich spot and don’t trust Taylor or the Bengals offensive line. Detroit’s defense stinks, but it has gotten pressure on 29.3% of its opponents’ dropbacks. They could get to Burrow frequently and muck things up as they did against Minnesota.

PICK: Under 47.5, play down to 46

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Matt Barbato is a featured writer at BettingPros. For more from Matt, check out his archive and follow him @RealMattBarbato.

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