Perhaps no Week 1 game in the NFL this season is harder to handicap right now than the Cincinnati Bengals and New York Jets. Why? We still don’t know who the Jets’ quarterback will be or whether Bengals Pro Bowl tight end Tyler Eifert will be ready to go. The Bengals are 1.5-point favorites on the NFL Week 1 betting lines.
Take a Closer Look at the Cincinnati at NY Jets Week 1 Expert Pick, Lines & TV Info
— Cincinnati Bengals (@Bengals) July 12, 2016
Cincinnati vs New York Historic Betting Trends
These teams last met in Week 8 of the 2013 season in Cincinnati and the Bengals embarrassed the Jets 49-9. Andy Dalton threw a career-high five touchdown passes. Marvin Jones caught four of them and had eight catches overall for 122 yards. Jones left this offseason for a five-year, $40 million free-agent deal in Detroit. The 6-foot- 2 receiver is a good combination of size, downfield speed, route running and run-after- the-catch ability. After missing all of 2014 due to injury, Jones caught 65 passes for 816 yards and four touchdowns in 2015.
Jets QB Geno Smith threw two interceptions that were returned for touchdowns in that loss to Cincinnati before heading to the bench early in the fourth quarter. The Jets took their most lopsided loss since a 45-3 loss to New England in 2010.
Why Bet on Cincinnati?
The Bengals are clearly the better team but might not have Eifert. Bengals director of personnel Duke Tobin recently suggested that Eifert (ankle surgery) is going to miss games to start the 2016 season. Eifert, who caught 13 touchdowns in 12 games last season, suffered an ankle injury during last year’s Pro Bowl. In all, he caught 52 passes for 615 yards while emerging as one of the better tight ends in football as the 2015 season progressed.
“It’s a position group that’s in flux, and it’s a position group that’s going to have to step up — particularly with Eifert out early in the year,” Tobin said when addressing a recent question about the Bengals’ receivers.
The Bengals also will be without suspended linebacker Vontaze Burfict the first three games of the year for repeated violations of player-safety rules. The league cited Burfict’s most recent transgression — an unnecessary roughness penalty with 22 seconds remaining in the AFC wild-card game against the Pittsburgh Steelers — as the tipping point. Burfict had 74 tackles and two key interceptions in 10 regular- season games. In the playoff loss to the Steelers, he had six tackles, a forced fumble and a sack.
Why Bet on the NY Jets?
Right now, the Jets’; starting QB for this game would be Smith, but that’s not a good thing. Most expect the team will re-sign 2015 starter Ryan Fitzpatrick any day now ahead of training camp. The Jets remain at an impasse with him and disgruntled defensive star Muhammad Wilkerson, on whom the team slapped the franchise tag. The Jets and Wilkerson have until 4 p.m. Friday to reach a long-term contract agreement. If they do not, then Wilkerson would be left with a choice of playing for the $15.7 million franchise tag this season or sitting out the year.
The Jets were content to let Fitzpatrick miss the spring program since he is a 33-year- old veteran who knows Chan Gailey’s offense. But training camp is a different situation. Jets coach Todd Bowles said this spring that camp is when he would want his starting quarterback in the building. If Fitzpatrick remains unsigned when camp opens, the Jets are going to face an interesting decision. When do you pull the offer for good?
Smith reportedly did look good in OTAs. Not in a hurry, Smith made fewer mistakes. He got rid of the ball on time and delivered with accuracy while limiting the turnovers. While last spring he struggled at times with interceptions in the red zone, this year he cashed in with touchdowns.
My Expert Pick
Eifert or not, I still like Cincinnati to cover that short spread on NFL odds. Go under.