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2013 Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals have been a surprise playoff team two years in a row now, which has been quite an accomplishment considering they play in the very competitive AFC North. In the 2011 NFL draft, the Bengals management set their team up for the future by drafting Georgia wide receiver A.J. Green in the first round and TCU quarterback Andy Dalton in the second. Both had an immediate impact on Cincinnati's offensive attack in 2011-12 and again last season. The Bengals got off to a rough start last season at 3-5 and frustrated many bettors as well as they were just 2-5-1 against the spread during this stretch. But they quickly turned things around in the second half of the season and went on to win seven of their last eight games both straight-up and ATS. Cincy finished with a 10-6 record overall, which was good enough to earn them a Wild Card spot again and another playoff matchup with the Houston Texans, ending with a road loss against them in the postseason for the second straight year.
Dalton had a pretty solid season last year for the Bengals as he took steps forward in almost every statistical category, throwing for almost 3,700 yards to go along with 27 passing touchdowns, 16 interceptions and four rushing touchdowns. Green also had a monster sophomore year in the pros with 97 catches for 1,350 yards and 11 touchdowns, continuing to make his case as one of the league's elite receivers. Cincinnati saw running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis rush for just under 1,100 yards and six touchdowns as well in his first year for the team. On the defensive side of the ball, the team's biggest force was defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who had 12.5 sacks. Atkins helped lead defensive coordinator Mike Zimmer's Top 10 defense that ranked sixth in total yards allowed (319.7 yards per game), seventh in passing yards allowed (212.5 ypg) and eighth in total points allowed (20 points per game).
The Bengals have had a relatively quiet offseason. First and foremost, they were very glad not to lose Zimmer, who interviewed for a few of the open coaching vacancies. In April's NFL draft, the Bengals landed Notre Dame tight end Tyler Eifert with their first-round pick, who is expected to have an instant impact and should be a nice target over the middle and in the red zone for Dalton. They also gave themselves some much-needed depth and got younger at RB, where they drafted highly-touted Giovani Bernard out of North Carolina as well as Nebraska's Rex Burkhead, who is a do-it-all type back. Cincy's most notable free agent signing was former division rival, five-time Pro Bowler James Harrison, who should bring even more physicality to this already very solid Bengals defense.
As the preseason is just around the corner, the oddsmakers at 5Dimes have this Cincinnati squad set at O/U 8.5 wins for the upcoming campaign. Anchored by a great defense, an extremely talented receiver in Green, and an up-and-coming signal-caller in Dalton who continues to grow and get better, the OVER is looking good again for the Bengals this season.
Recommended Play: OVER 8.5
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