After five weeks of football, the Bengals have struggled to a 2-3 start and no longer look like a sure thing for the playoffs, despite making it to the postseason in five straight seasons.
The offseason onslaught of losses appear to have caught up to Cincinnati, who ranks 10th in the NFL in yards per game, but rank just 24th when it comes to scoring and 30th when it comes to getting touchdowns in the red zone.
Losing Hue Jackson, Andre Smith, Marvin Jones, Mohamed Sanu and Tyler Eifert (injury) has just been too much for this team to overcome thus far, leading to the offense scoring just four first-half touchdowns in five games this season, including none in last week’s 28-14 loss to the Cowboys.
Cincinnati's 2-3 start leaves it two games behind the Steelers in the AFC North, and a Week 2 loss in Pittsburgh makes the mountain even hard to climb to reclaim the division crown.
The good news is the schedule will start to get easier very soon. After the Patriots, the Bengals have a game against the Browns at home before heading to London to take on Washington, and then get a much-needed bye week before facing the Giants.
A win on Sunday would certainly jump start the Bengals’ season after their woeful start. However, beating a Brady-led Patriots squad in Gillette Stadium is no easy feat. New England is 97-16 at home in games where Brady is the starting quarterback.
If the Bengals can't score the upset, it may signal the first winter without an NFL postseason in Ohio since 2010.
Odds and Betting Trends
This has been an easy one for oddsmakers to pick the favorite on. The only question has been how many points the home team will be favored by.
The Patriots are currently an 8.5-point favorite as of Friday morning with an over/under of 47.5, according to OddsShark.
The Patriots have not only won five of the past six meetings vs the Bengals, but have also covered the spread in four of the last five meetings. The last time they met in Foxborough in 2014, the Patriots ended up winning 43-17 as 2.5-point underdogs, and they went on to win their fourth Super Bowl.
Here are some of the recent betting trends for both clubs, courtesy of OddsShark.
- Cincinnati is 1-4-2 against the spread in its last 7 games
- Cincinnati is 2-4 straight up in its last 6 games
- The total has gone under in 11 of Cincinnati's last 16 games
- Cincinnati is 8-2-1 against the spread in its last 11 games on the road
- The total has gone under in 5 of Cincinnati's last 6 games on the road
- New England is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games
- New England is 4-1 straight up in its last 5 games
- The total has gone under in 4 of New England's last 6 games
- New England is 4-1 against the spread in its last 5 games at home
- New England is 22-3 straight up in its last 25 games at home
- The total has gone over in 4 of New England's last 6 games at home
- Cincinnati is 9-4 against the spread in its last 13 games when playing New England
- Cincinnati is 1-4 against the spread in its last 5 games when playing New England
- Cincinnati is 1-5 straight up in its last 6 games when playing New England
Expert Picks and Predictions
Only one expert across ESPN, CBS, and SB Nation was bold enough to pick Cincinnati to pull off the big upset.
- ESPN provides the lone rebel in this week's picks, as Dan Graziano is pulling for a Bengal upset.
- Over at CBS, the call is unanimous for the Patriots.
- It's the same over at SB Nation, where nine experts and the OddsShark computer all agree New England wins at home.
- FOX Sports' experts all went with New England as well.
- NFL Picks Watch, which accounts for all of the picks across various websites, has the Patriots getting 94 percent of picks as of the time this story was published.
For the most part, no one expects the Bengals to win this game, but sometimes the most dangerous team is the one everyone is sleeping on. Let’s hope that’s the case in Foxborough this Sunday.