And then there was the bucket of cold water. It appears that a third consecutive year of drafting well still won't give the Cincinnati Bengals the respect that some believe that they deserve. It was exciting news to hear that the team will be opening the season on Monday Night Football against the Baltimore Ravens. It was assumed that the Bengals would be underdogs since the Ravens went to the AFC Championship game last season, swept the Bengals in their two 2012 matchups and the game is in Baltimore. But, I don't think anyone expected this amount of disrespect from the experts in Las Vegas.
According to the Twitter account of The Cincinnati Enquirer's Joe Reedy, the Bengals are a seven-point underdog at this point (via The National Football Post):
According to a NFP story on Week 1 lines in Vegas, Ravens are a 7-point favorite against the Bengals.
This is likely to change as the season nears, but the Ravens being a favorite by such a large margin is eyebrow-raising. Though both games last year were decided by more than seven points, the matchups are usually quite competitive and come down to the wire. With a Bengals roster that has been (seemingly) vastly improved, it's a bit of a surprise that this line is set where it's at.
It appears that experts can't get past the fact that the team hasn't strung back-to-back winning seasons in three decades, nor can they ignore the consistency of the AFC juggernauts in Pittsburgh and Baltimore. It also didn't help that the Bengals didn't beat a playoff team last year, with their lone victory coming against a team with a winning record in the 9-7 Tennessee Titans. It looks as if they'll have to earn the respect that we believe that they deserve.