Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Cincinnati Bengals vs Washington Redskins: WSH -3 (Pinnacle)

Markets

If I told you that both of these teams have been overvalued in the line would you believe me?  The look-ahead line had the Redskins favored by four points, which isn't a surprised given how both teams looked in Week 1.  Washington re-opened as -3.5 favorites, but was subsequently bet down to -3.

I think the Skins were overvalued after all the RG3 hype in Week 1, but after seeing the Bengals for another week, I think the Skins are once again being under-valued at -3.  I would set the line closer to -5.

Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, and who?

I'm not going to get carried away and completely write-off the Bengals, but when you look at their current roster, there are so many question marks across the board.

Yes, Armon Binns and Andrew Hawkins have stepped up and taken advantage of favorable coverage opposite of Green, but how reliable are they going forward?

Jermaine Gresham could have more opportunities over the middle without all-pro Brian Orakpo in the lineup.  BenJarvus Green-Ellis could have a good day with Bernard Scott on track to return.

Yet, the issue is this offense will likely have to carry the team for the entire game for a win - and they'll have to do it behind a suspect interior O-line.

The Skins have their own questions on defense though.  Much is being made about the injuries, but Jarvis Jenkins and Kedric Golston should be able to replace Adam Carriker up front just fine.  The big blow is Orakpo.  The good news is Ryan Kerrigan, London Fletcher, and Perry Riley still provide an impressive set of linebackers in the middle.

The real test will come in the secondary where I'm not sold on Cedric Griffin, DeAngelo Hall, and DeJon Gomes.  Brandon Meriweather might return and Josh Wilson is questionable with a concussion, but neither is about to shut things down on their own.

RG3 Hype Out of Control?

Here's what I'll say about RG3.  The kid is an outstanding athlete, but he's not about to put up the numbers that Cam Newton did a year ago.  Part of the problem is he's passing to a bunch of number two receivers.  It would be nice to have Pierre Garcon in the lineup, but I don't see him as a number one yet anyways.

Having said that, the real benefit that RG3 is going to bring to this offense is two-fold. First, defensive ends and outside linebackers must respect his ability to break contain which will open up lanes for Alfred Morris.  We've already seen the production in the run game through two weeks.

The second direct advantage comes in the red zone.  I expect the Skins to be improved in this area simply due to RG3's ability to make plays happen with his feet.  We saw a glimpse of this last week vs the Rams when they thought they had the play locked down before RG3 tucked it in and ran in for a TD.

Defense Anyone?

Even better news is this Cincy defense is not playing anything like they were last year.  That's not a good sign when you consider how little all-pro talent is on their roster.  Carlos Dunlap should return this week which should be a big boost to the line, but the back seven has been downright atrocious after two weeks.

Outside of Rey Maualuga in the middle, the linebackers are a liability.  The secondary is filled with a bunch of former first round talent, but none of them have stepped up and proven they can be consistent.  Last week they made Brandon Weeden look like a first-ballot Hall-of-Famer.  That's pathetic.

If the Bengals don't take a significant step forward on defense this week they'll be relying too heavily on Dalton to put the game on his shoulders and win the game with points.  That's something I'm willing to bet against.

Bottom Line

The Skins opened the season with two games on the road and showed they can be a competitive bunch against middle-of-the-road teams.  When you consider how much excitement there will be in their home-opener, I really like the value at -3.

I don't think betting the Bengals on the road is going to be a profitable venture this year unless they make a dramatic turnaround on defense.  That's a lot to ask this soon in the year.

RG3 will continue to be up and down as the season unfolds, but he's dynamic enough to give subpar defenses some fits in coverage and in the run lanes.

NFL Pick: WSH -3.

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