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Panthers open as favorite over Bengals in Week 3

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The Bengals will begin the season as an underdog in each of their first three games (and likely four),

Carolina Panthers v Cincinnati Bengals Photo by Andy Lyons/Getty Images

The Bengals are off to a fast start at 2-0, but they’re about to endure a major two-game road trip that will test just how good they really are.

Cincinnati will be on the road to face the Panthers in Week 3, followed by the Falcons in Week 4. Both teams are now 1-1 following Atlanta’s home win over Carolina in Week 2. The Panthers nearly rallied from a 14-point deficit, but the home team held on for a 31-24 win.

The Panthers’ lone win was a Week 1 defensive struggle against the Cowboys, which saw the home team win 16-8.

Speaking of, winning in Carolina is hard to accomplish, as the Panthers have won seven of their last nine home games and are 18-6 at home since 2015.

That’s probably a big reason why the Bengals, who have lost 11 of their last 16 road games, are going to be underdogs in Week 3.

Depending on what sportsbook you use, the Bengals are between a 3-4 point underdog right now. That’s also assuming Joe Mixon is out after he underwent arthroscopic surgery and is expected to miss 2-4 weeks.

Vontaze Burfict is also set to serve his third game of a four-game ban. If both Mixon and Burfict are part of this Bengals team in Week 3, I think we may actually see Cincinnati favored.

As it stands, the Bengals will rely on guys like Giovani Bernard and Jordan Evans to help make up for those losses. That’s going to prove very difficult against a Panthers defense that dominates in the trenches and runs the ball very well.

What’s crazy is the Bengals are 2-0 after being underdogs in each of their first two games, and they’ll almost certainly be an underdog at Atlanta in Week 4. That means the Bengals will be one of the rare teams to be an underdog in each of their four games, but at worst, they’ll come out of it with two wins.

The way this team is playing, I expect them to get one more between Carolina and Atlanta.