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Seahawks vs Bengals: Odds, expert picks, analysis and predictions

A roundup of what all the national experts are saying about Bengals vs Seahawks.

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There may not be a bigger game in NFL Week 5 than that of the Seattle Seahawks traveling to the Queen City for a clash with the Cincinnati Bengals.

Coming into the year, most viewed Seattle as one of the two or three best teams in football, and for good reason. They returned much of their core from the past two seasons that have seen Seattle make the Super Bowl twice and win it all in the 2013 season. However, a 2-2 start that included a near-loss to winless Detroit on Monday Night Football has many viewing the Bengals as the favorite in this one.

Still, we're talking about a Seahawks team that's gone 44-16 (including playoffs) since 2012 and 30-8 from 2013-14. Burying them after four games would be a massive mistake, and this will by no means be an easy win for Cincinnati, even at home.

Over at, how well the Seattle's enigmatic offensive line performs against a stout Cincinnati defensive line is among their biggest keys to this game.

Seattle’s offensive line has been big topic of discussion this week after Russell Wilson was sacked six times against Detroit, upping Seattle’s season total of sacks allowed to 18, which is tied for a league-high. Carroll, offensive line coach Tom Cable and offensive coordinator Darrell Bevell have all expressed confidence that their inexperienced line will improve, but things won’t get easier this week against a very good Cincinnati front that features All-Pro defensive tackle Geno Atkins, who has three sacks, and defensive end Carlos Dunbar, who has a team-high 3.5 sacks.

There have been some good moments for Seattle’s line—and it’s also not fair to put every sack on that group—but for the offense to be at its best, the protection needs to improve.

Adding to that, the guys at Pro Football Focus have the Seahawks' offensive line ranked as the third-worst line in football.

Pass blocking rank: 29th

Run blocking rank: 28th

Penalties ranks: 24th

Stud: None of the starters have earned a positive grade this year, which is telling. But credit to Drew Nowak (-2.8), who hasn’t looked like a complete liability.

Dud: Unfortunately, Justin Britt (-14.8) hasn’t looked any better at guard than he did at tackle.

Summary: It’s almost like the Seahawks have a contempt for their offensive line. Either that, or they’ve got a little too much confidence in the powers of Russell Wilson and Marshawn Lynch, because not only have they seemingly turned a blind eye towards the unit, they opted to get rid of its best player (Max Unger) last year.

If you follow CBS Sports' Pete Prisco, you'd know he's as big of a Bengals backer as you'll find in the national media. He did a great piece on why Andy Dalton is playing so much better this season, what's made this offense so dangerous and how its cumulated to make the Bengals a true title contender.

Dalton is averaging 10.23 yards per attempt, which is second-best in the league behind Pittsburgh's Ben Roethlisberger. Cincinnati's 25 pass plays of 20 yards and longer are the most in the league and the five 40-plus plays ties them for second.

It helps that Dalton has a full bevy of weapons to throw to this season. In the playoff loss last year to the Colts, he was without A.J Green, Marvin Jones, Tyler Eifert and was relegated to throwing to Rex Burkhart and some guys no longer on the team.

Now with Jones and Eifert back healthy, and Green still a top receiver to go with Mohamed Sanu and others, Dalton has done a nice job spreading the football around. Green has 25 catches, Eifert 16, Jones 10 and Sanu has nine. The three outside receivers are all averaging over 16 yards per catch, with Sanu leading the way at 17.9 per reception.

Fellow CBS Sports writer Jason La Canfora sees the Bengals versus Seahawks game as the only "Drop Everything" game this week that everyone needs to watch. He also sees the Bengals possibly being able to jump out to a big lead in this one thanks to their fast starts in contrast with the Seahawks seemingly sleep-walking through the early parts of games.

The Bengals have the fastest starting offense in the NFL, scoring on all opening drives this season and producing touchdowns in three of those games. Seattle, on the other hand, has been as slow a starting team as any in the NFL, and has yet to score any points on the opening drive. The offense generally doesn't get going until the second half of games. If the Bengals can keep the throttle down, maybe they can finally pull away early. Cincy's awesome first quarters have generally been followed by tepid play … Another contrast: the Bengals enter the game with 22 plays of 20 yards or more, tied for the most explosive plays in the NFL, while Seattle is in the bottom five in that department.

If you're into a little gambling, the guys at Odds Shark have the Bengals as a 3-point favorite with an over/under of 43. Here are some of their betting trends for both Cincinnati and Seattle.

Cincinnati is 4-1 ATS in its last 5 games
Cincinnati is 4-1 SU in its last 5 games
Cincinnati is 15-4-1 ATS in its last 20 games at home
Cincinnati is 16-3-1 SU in its last 20 games at home
The total has gone OVER in 6 of Cincinnati's last 8 games at home
Seattle is 1-5-1 ATS in its last 7 games
Seattle is 10-3 SU in its last 13 games
Seattle is 15-8 ATS in its last 23 games on the road
Seattle is 15-8 SU in its last 23 games on the road

Six of SB Nation's eight experts have the Bengals pulling out the win at home, and five of the eight CBS experts do as well. At ESPN, 11 of their 13 experts are going with the home team in this one. Team Rankings has the Bengals winning by an average score of 22.8 - 19-8. ESPN NFL Nation writers Sheil Kapadia (Seattle) and Coley Harvey (Cincinnati) both see a Bengals win.

Number Fire has Cincy winning by an average margin of 24.1 - 21.1. The experts go with the Bengals by a 4-0 margin. The Fox Sports crew goes with Cincinnati by a 5-3 margin. Peter Schrager at predicts a 24-16 win for the Bengals. Two of five Around the League writers at like the Seahawks to win on the road this week.

Judging by all of the expert picks and predictions, the Bengals are the clear favorites in this one, but most expect this to be a game that comes down to the wire.