Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Green Bay Packers vs Cincinnati Bengals: GB -1.5 1st Half (5Dimes)

Coaches

Mike McCarthy's overall preseason record isn't anything to get excited about one way or another, but this season has been unique. First, he doesn't have Matt Flynn to lead the backups anymore, and second, his team has been ravaged through two games. However, the team is finally healthy and put together much better practices this week.  He said the starters will play the first half.

On the other end we have Marvin Lewis. Out of all weeks to fade Lewis in the preseason, it's Week 3 where he sports a 2-7 SU overall record.  Lewis said that they aren't treating this like a typical "dress rehearsal" game due to the injuries they've sustained in the first two games and that the starters will get the same amount of snaps as last game (about 3 series).

Markets

The Packers opened as -2.5 favorites and we saw some early money come in on their side. You'll find -3 across the board with varying juice, but for our purposes we only need to look at the first half lines.  GB opened at -1.5 for the half, but I won't be surprised if that heads towards -3 by kickoff.

Quarterbacks

Aaron Rodgers and Andy Dalton are the only relevant names here. Rodgers told the media they want to focus on red zone efficienty, converting third and short, and sustaining long drives on Thursday.  I'm not sure about you, but that sounds just fine to me. I like the Cincy defense, but they'll have their work cut out for them regardless of the Packers game plan. Jermichael Finley and Greg Jennings will be back in the lineup giving Rodgers two more premier pass catchers to choose from.  UPDATE: Finley has been ruled out. 

I think Dalton will have some success too, especially with AJ Green to throw to, but he'll need to put on a show if he's to keep up with Rodgers for an entire half.  Jermaine Gresham and BenJarvus Green-Ellis aren't expected to play.

Loose Ends

This game will also mark the debut and return of Cedric Benson.  Publicly he said he wants to stick it to the Bengals, but these things don't really matter once the ball the is snapped. The good news is Rodgers will have someone semi-reliable to hand off to on running downs.

Carlos Dunlap is also out for the Bengals which gives Rodgers one less thing to worry about.  He just got his left tackle back Marshall Newhouse last game, so I'm sure he's happy that things are aligned in his favor in the trenches.

Pick

It remains possible that the Packers just go through the motions for the third straight week, but with the turnaround in health and extended playing time, I'm not going to pass up the opportunity to ride Green Bay for the first half.  It's become an almost yearly tradition to fade Lewis in week 3 of the preseason and 2012 is no exception.

NFL Pick: GB -1.5 1st Half

The rest of my Week 3 predictions are here, or you can find all my 2012 predictions on the home page main menu.