Cincinnati Bengals NFL Betting Preview: Burrow to the Rescue

Posted on: August 19, 2020, 05:52h. 

Last updated on: August 20, 2020, 09:36h.

To the victor goes the spoils. Unless it’s the NFL Draft, of course, in which case the opposite is true. The Cincinnati Bengals finished 2-14 last season to earn the right to select the most highly touted quarterback prospects in years.

Bengals QB Joe Burrow
After leading LSU to a national championship, Joe Burrow is charged with turning around the Bengals. (Image: Joseph Maiorana/USA TODAY Sports)

During his final season at LSU, Joe Burrow had one of the great seasons in college football history. He completed 76.3 percent of his passes for 5,671 yards with 60 touchdowns and six interceptions to earn the Heisman Trophy and lead the Tigers to the national championship.

In his biggest games of the season — the regular-season showdown against Alabama, the SEC championship game against Georgia, and two playoff games — he threw 19 touchdowns and zero interceptions while averaging 425 passing yards.

The expectation is nothing less than Burrow becoming the savior of a franchise with four consecutive losing seasons and no playoff wins in 30 years. That won’t happen overnight.

At +20,000, the Bengals are tied with Washington and Jacksonville for the longest Super Bowls odds at William Hill. At Westgate SuperBook, the Bengals also are +20,000. But at least they’re ahead of Washington (+30,000) and Jacksonville (+50,000).

Over/Under: 5.5 Wins

Of course, Burrow can’t do it alone. Veteran Andy Dalton, who isn’t exactly a stiff, went 2-11 as the starter last season. Cincinnati is a team with a lot of holes but the cupboard isn’t barren.

Thus, progress might be incremental. At FanDuel, the over/under on wins is 5.5 (-140 on the over; +120 on the under).

Joe Mixon is one of the better running backs in the league. The receiver corps could be fantastic if veteran A.J. Green can return to form after missing all of last season because of injury, and second-round pick Tee Higgins proves to be a quick study. They retooled the defense by signing cornerbacks Xavier Rhodes and Mackensie Alexander away from Minnesota in free agency and drafting linebackers Logan Wilson (third round), Akeem Davis-Gaither (fourth round), and Markus Bailey (seventh round).

The Bengals have been a trendy underdog pick this off-season,” an analyst for William Hill told “The combination of Burrow and a lot of players returning from injury check a couple key boxes for people looking for teams that have potential to make big year-over-year improvements.”

The consensus bet on the Bengals to win the AFC North is +2,500, odds that represent their rebuilding process, along with the power of the Baltimore Ravens and the return of Pittsburgh Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

No Ordinary Joe

DraftKings set over/unders of 3,700.5 passing yards and 21.5 touchdowns for Burrow. Those seem well within his grasp, but the COVID-19 pandemic has been a major setback for all rookies, and especially for quarterbacks, who lost critical developmental time when off-season practices were canceled.

Burrow is the consensus favorite to win NFL Offensive Rookie of the Year honors. He is +225 at William Hill, PointsBet and DraftKings, +230 at FanDuel, and +240 at MGM.

Helping Burrow’s cause would be a healthy Green. He was voted to seven Pro Bowls in his first seven seasons, but missed six games in 2016, seven games in 2018 and all 16 games in 2019. He is seventh in NFL history with 80.2 receiving yards per game. At +800, he is sixth on William Hill’s Comeback Player of the Year board.

Editor’s Note: This is the seventh of 32 NFL team previews. The AFC North will conclude with Cleveland on Thursday.