15* NFL Sunday Undervalued Underdog on New England Patriots +1.5
New England vs. Cincinnati,
10/06/2013 13:00 EDT,
Score: 6 - 13
Point Spread: +1½/-110 New England
After opening the season with a pair of ugly wins over the Bills and Jets, the Patriots have been scary good the last two weeks. They beat Tampa Bay 23-3 at home in Week 3 before picking up their biggest win of the season last week in a 30-23 victory at Atlanta. Almost nobody escapes the Georgia Dome with a victory, and the Patriots were able to accomplish that feat. The defense is thriving, and the offense is finally getting untracked now that Tom Brady is getting accustomed to his new receivers.
Brady is coming off his best performance of the season, throwing for 316 yards and two touchdowns against Atlanta. He is getting comfortable with new top targets Kenbrell Thompkins and Julian Edelman. Thompkins had six receptions for 127 yards and a touchdown against the Falcons, while Edelman caught seven balls for 118 yards in the win. The Patriots now rank 11th in the league in total offense at 367.2 yards per game. What has been most impressive is the improvement from the defense, which ranks 6th in the league in scoring (14.2 points/game).
Cincinnati isn’t doing much of anything well this season. Its offense ranks 22nd in the league, averaging just 20.2 points and 327.5 total yards per game. The Bengals have been one-dimensional, ranking just 22nd in rushing offense at 83.8 yards per game and 3.4 per carry. I understand the Vince Wilfork injury is huge, but his loss won't come into play as much this week against a Bengals team that cannot run the football as it is. The Bengals managed just 266 total yards in a 6-17 loss at Cleveland last week.
Brady should be able to pick apart a Cincinnati secondary that is hurting right now. It was without three starters last week against Cleveland, and while free safety Reggie Nelson returned to practice this week, starting cornerbacks Leon Hall and Dre Kirkpatrick have not. All three defensive backs remain questionable to return this week. Even if any or all three of them go, they'll clearly be rusty without getting the reps in practice. New England is certainly a team that you need to practice for to be fully prepared.
The Patriots have won four straight meetings with the Bengals by 14, 21, 25 and 7 points, respectively. Their last two trips to Cincinnati resulted in 34-13 and 38-13 blowouts. Bill Belichick is 40-19 against the spread as an underdog as the coach of New England. Marvin Lewis is 2-10 against the spread off a loss by 10 points or more to a division rival as the coach of Cincinnati. The Patriots are 21-7-1 against the spread in their last 29 October games. The Bengals are 2-7-1 against the number in their last 10 vs. a team with a winning record. Bet the Patriots Sunday.