Tag Archives: Bengals

Beating Vegas: Playoff Positioning

Week Seventeen of the NFL season is the trickiest of all when it comes to getting an edge against the spread.  For some teams it’s “win and you’re in” while others need help from other teams so they can get into the playoff dance.

Cleveland Browns +10.5 at Pittsburgh Steelers

Yes, this is a very predictable start for this week’s Beating Vegas.  The Steelers need to win in order to secure home field advantage but they also need the New England Patriots to lose their game against the Jets.  The last time the Steelers played the Browns,  it was week one and the Steelers squeaked by 21-18.  This loss was looked upon as a positive for the Cleveland Browns, who hung in there and made things difficult for Pittsburgh, but that premature optimism was proven to be idiotic because they are currently on a 15 game losing streak (just in case you didn’t figure it out, that means they haven’t won a game all season long).  Cleveland is in the pitts (burgh? eh. . .) and now many on this team are just auditioning to keep their jobs on the team or trying to play themselves off of it. . .  Cleveland’s one positive all year has been their rush defense but in the last two weeks, they’ve let up 4 yards per rush against Melvin Gordon and then 5.4 yards a carry against Baltimore’s Alex Collins.  Steelers running back LeVeon Bell was held to 32 yards rushing the last time he went up against Cleveland and will be looking to make his mark this week.  Browns quarterback DeShone Kizer seems to get worse every week – while hovering at the 50% completion mark with only 9 touchdowns and 21 interceptions. Pittsburgh’s pass defense is ranked in the top 10 this year and will have no problem confusing  “Disheveled Kizer.”  Pittsburgh is also top ten in rushing yards allowed in the NFL so this shouldn’t be a repeat performance of week one.

The Pick:  Pittsburgh -10.5

Carolina Panthers +4  at Atlanta Falcons

This game is interesting because two other games that directly affect the Falcons and the Panthers playoff hopes are being played at the same time.  Here is the breakdown for the NFC South:

  • New Orleans wins the NFC South if they beat the Bucs or if the Panthers lose
  • The Panthers win the NFC South if they beat the Falcons AND the Saints lose
  • The Falcons get a wildcard berth if they win OR if the Seahawks (who also play at 4:30) lose.

Keeping all this in mind, the public is going to jump all over the Panthers getting points against a team that since last year’s Super Bowl has been a punchline. . . The Falcons offense, has indeed taken a step back – but remember the numbers they were putting up – it was video-game-like.  Matt Ryan is still completing passes at 65%, Julio Jones has over 1300 receiving yards and the Falcons possess the second best running back duo in the league with Tevin Coleman and Devonta Freeman (behind the Saints).   If Coleman’s concussion symptoms linger – Freeman has proven before he can carry the load for the whole four quarters. . . the Panthers defense is what generally keeps them competitive, but they are allowing 4.1 yards a rush and let opponents throw against them for a completion percentage of 64%.  Atlanta is pretty much right there defensively with Carolina – but nobody really talks about that. . . out of these two teams, Carolina is definitely the one you don’t want to play in the playoffs because their style of play can travel well; but in this scenario the Falcons at home are the play.  Don’t be cheap though – buy the whole point and give yourself the -3, even maybe buy a point and a half.

The Pick: Atlanta Falcons -4

Cincinnati Bengals +9.5 at the Baltimore Ravens

For the Ravens it’s pretty simple – win and you’re in.  It seems almost too simple.  You beat the Bengals and you’re in though, and the Bengals at 6-9 have nothing going for them. . .nothing except playing the role of spoiler to the Ravens.  The last time these teams played was on week one were the Ravens shut out the Bengals 20-0.  The Ravens went on to shut out two more teams this year (the Dolphins and the Aaron Rodger-less Packers, big whoop) and pretty much lucked in with second year running back Alex Collins who is averaging 4.7 yards a carry.  Joe Flacco is the most underwhelming “franchise quarterback” in the NFL, and it’s been that way for about four or five years.  Sure he completes 65% of his passes, but he only averages about 6 yards a pass.  Cincy might be without running back Joe Mixon and linebacker Vontaze Burfict this week, but believe it or not, there is so much talent on both sides of the ball, it shouldn’t make a difference.  Yes, I said it, there is actual talent here.  The results don’t show it and that is why this is head coach Marvin Lewis’ last year.  Expect the leaders on this team – quarterback Andy Dalton and wide-out AJ Green to expect their teammates to send their coach out with a win, against their division rival.  This is a team with nothing to lose, getting almost ten points and in a position to play spoiler against a division rival.  Who wouldn’t love the odds here!?

The Pick: Bengals +9.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio





Beating Vegas: Sorry Chief

Kansas City Chiefs  +3.5 at New York Jets

The Kansas City Chiefs have lost four of their last six games and are currently in the midst of  a three-game losing streak.  This is the same Kansas City Chiefs team that started out the season 5-0 and had people thinking that Alex Smith was a legit contender for the MVP award this season. . . yeah, things have changed -drastically for the Chiefs.   This is an offense that is sputtering – not being able to hit the 20-point-mark in their last four games, and it’s not all on Alex Smith.  Running back Kareem Hunt started out the season looking like he would run away with rookie of the year honors, but in his last six games he has averaged just 3.15 yards a carry and has not topped the 100-yard-rushing mark in a game.  The pass defense, on paper, looks good only letting opponents complete – an NFL best – 55% of their passes – but they’ve been able to bolster that number going against offenses like the Giants, the Bills and the Broncos as of late. . . This week’s opponent, the New York Jets – have exceeded very, very, very low season expectations and the veteran quarterback Josh McCown is leading quite an impressive aerial attack.  Yes, the Jets are 4-7 but McCown is completing 67% of his passes and he has formed a great chemistry with the speedy wide-receiver Robby Anderson, who has scored a touchdown in each of his last five games. Wide-out Jermaine Kearse is on pace to having the best season of his career and is neck and neck with Anderson in receptions.  At this point the Jets just seem like the team that is playing harder and the Chiefs have lost their identity.  Add to the fact that this is the Chiefs second cross country visit to New York in the last three weeks and there are now rumors of Andy Reid having Alex Smith on a short leash, this points all the way to the Jets.  Watch the line even out by kickoff.

The Pick: Jets +3.5

Cleveland Browns +13.5 at San Diego Chargers

Cleveland has been broken down here at Beating Vegas, countless times already this season. . . good run defense / worst offense in the league. That pretty much sums them up. Fans are calling for another new regime, another quarterback to be taken in the first round and they are getting ready for another season to come to a merciful end. Deshone Kizer’s five touchdowns coupled with fourteen interceptions would get him benched in any other town – he has been benched actually – but he always comes back, because – why not? Running back Duke Johnson, was basically the only bright spot of this offense, but it seems Corey Coleman is almost back to his old self after returning to the field two weeks ago.  What people will be looking forward to seeing though is the return of troubled wide-out Josh Gordon.  The last time Gordon played meaningful football was in 2014.  . .  with no disrespect to Deshaun Watson – the Browns are playing a quarterback this week who is the consummate professional at his position – Philip Rivers.   Rivers has the Chargers actually thinking about the AFC West division and a playoff birth (yes, they are 5-6 and that pretty much puts them right in the mix) and with the supporting cast he has at his disposal, this could be one of the more damaging dissections of this Browns secondary that we’ve seen all year.  The Browns are allowing opponents to complete passes at a rate of 67% and as a defense are allowing quarterbacks to generate a 103 rating against them.  Regardless of who’s out there running routes for Cleveland, they still have the worse quarterback in the league under center, and he’ll be under pressure from two of the best pass rushers in the business in Joey Bosa and Melvin Ingram.

The Pick: Chargers -13.5

Pittsburgh Steelers -5 at Cincinnati Bengals

In the last ten meetings of this AFC North rivalry, the Cincinnati Bengals have only come away with two victories.  The Steelers pretty much own the Bengals and that’s not ground-breaking news to anyone even half-way-familiar with the Bengals.  The Bengals are pretty much one of the more underwhelming franchises of all time.  Even if they make the playoffs, you know they’re getting the boot in the first round. . . but.  . . there is something about a home underdog on Monday Night Football.   No, I’m not one of those superstitious-line-watchers who believe it’s a “lock” to take the home under dog on Monday Night Football, but this time around, it’s something to consider.  The Pittsburgh Steelers are probably the “phoniest” 9-2 team you’ll ever see.  They play down to the level of their competition as if it’s their job.  This is proven by their three-point victories over the Aaron Rodger-less Packers, the Cleveland Browns (look above to see how awful they are) and the Colts.  Let us not forget that this Steelers team actually LOST to the lowly Chicago Bears as well.  This game will be determined by how early and hard the Bengals hit the Steelers.  Five points is a lot, and it seems like a line that is put there because of the “public” – more than football reasons.

The Pick: Bengals +5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: L.A. Non-Consequential

Pittsburgh Steelers -3 at Baltimore Ravens

Forget about the actual spread, and lets take a look at the over/under number of 42.  This match up is typically a grudge match and here is how the numbers look since 2010:  Three games have gone completely over, two of those games have been right at 42 and three of those games have gone to 43 points (one of those meetings needed overtime to do so). That leaves the other 7 meetings to obviously go under our “magic number.”  This year the Steelers look “un-even” and Baltimore looked like they had the best defense in the league until (excuse me as I double check the stats) Blake Bortles threw for 244 yards and 4 touchdowns against them – yeah, I know. . . The Steelers lost to a Chicago Bears team who’s offense is as one dimensional as one can get and had to squeak by a Cleveland Browns team, that is ___________ (you can fill in the blank).  Bottom line is, Joe Flacco and the Baltimore offense is probably just as hard to watch as the Panthers are now-a-days and it seems that “Big Ben” Roethlisburger may have finally lost a step.  Expect a 13-10 thriller, and it doesn’t matter who wins.  We all lose if we watch this game.

The Pick: The Under at 42 points

Philadelphia Eagles +1.5 at the Los Angeles Chargers

We’re taking a look at this game because of the optics.  Both teams got worked by Kansas City, but if not for two botched field goals, the Chargers would be sitting at 2-1 much like the Eagles.  Chargers quarterback Philip Rivers has gotten off to a slow start this season averaging less than 7 yards a pass, with 4 touchdowns mirroring 4 interceptions.  The public is riding high on the Eagles this week with 68% of the money going that way, which isn’t surprising because the national and local public pay no mind to the Chargers anyway.  The Eagles escaped with a win against New York, as the Giants realized too late that the Eagles have no secondary.  The Chargers, when compared to the Giants have a formidable group of wide-outs, a better offensive line and yes, a better quarterback.  On top of all that you got a team coming off a win against a division rival traveling 3000 miles to the team football forgot.  Great time for the home team to pick up their first win of the season.

The Pick: The Chargers -1.5

Here at Beating Vegas, we’re feeling good about those two picks.  The rest of the match-ups don’t look to pleasant but for the sake of writing down a third “lock” as we always do, here we go. . .

Cincinnati Bengals -3 at Cleveland Browns

Last week told us two things, the Browns aren’t good enough to beat the Colts and the Bengals should be almost good enough to beat the Packers.  It might sound crazy, but that tells a lot.  The Colts possess one of the worst rosters in the NFL this season (and last season) so for the  Browns to put up the “L” against them is atrocious.  The Bengals, came out the gates looking like the NFL’s only punchline.  A firing of an offensive coordinator and the discovery of using Joe Mixon, gave the offense some life though.  The Bengals actually DO have a good roster – that’s never been the problem, it’s been coaching – eh, yeah and sometimes it’s Andy Dalton as well. . . Bottom line is people keep looking for the Browns to turn the corner and for the Bengals to stump their big toe on the curb – truth is, neither of that will happen.  At least not this year.

The Pick: The Bengals -3

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Rollin’ With the Tide

Last week was the first time this season that the college picks went 1 for 3 – but things were all good as we scored perfectly with our NFL locks.  This week, looks like one where you have to keep faith in the hot hands and pay close attention to any trends developing.  We’ve been putting in work this season for you guys so keep checking for this column weekly and visit mybookie.ag so you can beat the NCAA and NFL odds. . .


Cincinnati Bengals +8 at New England Patriots


Everybody in New England is still riding high on Tom Brady’s comeback performance last week against the Cleveland Browns.  Brady threw for over 300 yards with three touchdowns – but this week he’s going against a real team, and a real defense in the Cincinnati Bengals. . . eh, is he really?  The Bengals performance last week was pretty much fitting considering how they’ve underwhelmed at the beginning of this season.  The Bengals defense allows teams to complete passes at a rate of 60% and are allowing 4.4 yards a rush.  The Patriots have the kind of offense set up to do both, especially with Brady back and looking fresh-as-ever.  The Bengals might be able to take away the threat of the two tight-end sets the Pats love to sit in, but that only means the Pats will go to a power running game if the linebackers and safeties are paying too much attention to Gronkowski and Bennett.  This is going to be a problem for every team in the league this year against the Pats.  It’s at New England and it’s a single digit spread – smart money is riding the Pats right now.  How can it not be?

The Pick: Patriots -8

San Francisco 49ers -7.5 at Buffalo Bills


The elephant in the room is that the 49ers are second to last in rushing yards allowed per game with 146.8 and the Bills are ranked third in the NFL in rushing offense (5.1 ypc and 137 yards per game).  Also, after having a miserable season opener against Baltimore, Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has been doing what is asked of him and more (sometimes).  They are riding a three game winning streak in which their last two games included beating New England and Los Angeles on the road.  Now they’re back home and waiting on a 49ers team flying in from the west coast.  It might not be blistering cold weather they’ll be flying into but none-the-less, that jet lag and a 60% chance of rain on Sunday (yup, I checked) – could be enough to spell doom for Chip Kelly’s offense.  San Francisco knew when they played Arizona last week, they would get a heavy dosage of running back David Johnson, and yet they still couldn’t do anything to stop him.  Bills running back Lesean McCoy is averaging 5.3 yards a carry while quarterback Tyrod Taylor is averaging over 6 yards a clip.  The 49ers are a one dimensional offense, and that one dimension – their running game – is overrated, averaging less than four yards a carry.  Say what you want about Rex Ryan but if you’re a one dimensional offense and that one dimension is not impressive – his defense will eat you alive.

The Pick: Bills -7.5


Alabama -13 at Tennessee


Tennessee entered this season (again) with much hype.  They have the coach, the depth and even the experience at key positions on the field.  What has that gotten them so far?  Sloppy wins against two non-BCS conference teams and miracle victories in back to back weeks against Florida and Georgia.  Butch Jones’ team finally ran out of luck last week and lost to Texas A&M 45-38.  On the other hand, Alabama has been consistently looking like the best team in college football since week one. The fact that Vegas has them as a double digit favorite against a team as athletic as Tennessee and in front of a hostile crowd of over 100,000 people, says a lot.  Unlike Jones in Tennessee, Nick Saban has complete control of the emotions and focus of his roster.  Last week’s victory over Arkansas saw a final score of 49-30 and it really wasn’t even that close.  After the Crimson Tide were up by 25 points, they were  effortlessly going shot for shot against the Razorbacks.  Tennessee’s potential never comes to play – Alabama comes to play every week.  Anything less than a double digit victory is a failure in coach Saban’s eyes.  On average, Alabama scores eleven more points per game and allows eleven less points per game than Tennessee.  The Vols are allowing over 180 rushing yards a game, which spells trouble against a Tide team that is averaging 5.7 yards a carry.  Saban is a perfect 9-0 against the Vols, so that works in your favor as well. . .

The Pick: Alabama -13

Southern Mississippi +24.5 at LSU


Interesting game right here and maybe LSU’s legacy and SEC ties are giving them more respect than they currently deserve.  Or, maybe LSU is still a dominant force to those from the outside looking in on the SEC.  Whatever it is, this is a huge line favoring a team coming off of a 42-7 victory over Missouri two weeks ago. There are no surprises with LSU.  They will play tough defense and run the ball.  That’s all they pretty much can do because they have a non existent passing attack.  Even without their stud running back Leornard Fournette in the game, the Tigers were able to wreck havoc behind this offensive line with their running back combo of Derrius Guice and Darrell Williams (who combined for 293 rushing yards against Missouri).  Southern Mississippi isn’t the team they’ll be throwing against anyway, as this feisty unit still hasn’t allowed over 1000 yards passing against them after six games.  Teams only average a total of 11 receptions a game against this unit as well.  The run defense is average at best, allowing 4.5 yards a carry, but they’ll no doubt be leaving the wideouts in single coverage.  Southern Mississippi’s offense is ranked 12th in yards per game in the country, posting up 530 yards a game with a very balanced and strong offensive attack.  This is by far their biggest test of the year on both sides of the ball.  This is not a typical SEC non-conference-cupcake opponent for LSU.

The Pick: Southern Mississippi +24.5

Four Game Teaser of the Week: Giants/Ravens under 56.5; Ohio State +1.5;  Alabama -1 and Patriots +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely!

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

Beating Vegas: Entry Five

Every week during the football season, “The Heartthrob” G.W. Gras will be giving out his college and professional football “best bets” against the spread.  The wise guys in Vegas live comfortably – it’s time we all get on their level.

Judging Last Week: After two failed weeks in a row, it’s safe to say we’re jumping off of the N.C. State bandwagon.  Baylor and Ole Miss cleaned up easily against their 40 plus point spreads, proving to not be scared of those big numbers when you’re Goliath, and the opposition is David.  .  .

Eastern Michigan (+29) at Toledo


The Toledo Rockets are everyone’s “Cinderella” team this year.  The small school from the MAC Conference who finds themselves undefeated and in the Top 25.  Toledo stands at 5-0, and in all truth could be 6-0 if their season opener against Stony Brook wasn’t postponed.  Toledo’s rushing attack is first in the MAC with 197 yards per game and second in the MAC with 5.0 yards a carry.  The backfield carries are split evenly between Terry Swanson and Damion Jones-Moore who average 6.5 and 5.5 yards a rush, respectively. Toledo’s defense has also been stout this year allowing only 11.8 points per game, which is spearheaded by a rush defense allowing less than three yards a carry.  Toledo was the team that exposed an over-rated Arkansas, early in the season with a 16-12 victory and is proving to be ahead of the class in the MAC.   Eastern Michigan hasn’t had quite the fortunes of Toledo, and are holding a 1-5 record and will definitely lose this match up.  Of course, if you’re here it’s not about if you lose the game, it’s by how much.   Eastern Michigan’s run defense is prime pickings for this Toledo attack, but the Eagles have their own star-back.  Darius Jackson is averaging 5.7 yards a carry and has amassed 585 rushing yards so far this season.  His backup Shaq Vann is averaging one more yard per carry.   Eastern Michigan is actually right there with Toledo in average points and yards in a game and as an offense are actually more balanced than Toledo.

The Pick: Eastern Michigan +29

Texas Tech (-31) at Kansas


Sophomore quarterback Patrick Mahommes has been leading the nations number one pass offense and has given the Texas Tech Red Raiders the offense that coach Kliff Kingsbury has been wanting to see.  Mahomme has thrown 19 touchdown passes and over 2200 yards so far this year.  Their defense makes the offense play “catch-up” on the scoreboard week to week, but when your opposition is Kansas. . . there is not much to be worried about.  Kansas was the whipping boy in last week’s column and that trend may very well continue as they are proving to be one of the worse programs in the nation.  The Kansas Jayhawks rank at the bottom of the Big 12 in total defense and total offense and are showing no improvements on either side of the ball.  This is a team that will go win-less this year and they’ll look terribly doing so.

The Pick: Texas Tech -31

Boston College (+16.5) at Clemson


The spread seems to be just where it needs to be because the Clemson Tigers average 35 points a game while the B.C. Eagles average 20.  Boston College has the best defense in the ACC, letting opponents only average 7.2 points per game.  Is that stat smoke and mirrors?  Yes and no.  See, the Eagles opened up the season with wins against the likes of Maine and Howard at a combined score of 100-3.  They held  Florida’s offense to 14 points in a shut out loss and held Duke to 9 points in a 9-7 loss.  Even those losses are somewhat statements for the defense, but losing 3-0 to Wake Forest last week – that just confuses things.  Boston College is a team that can’t throw the ball at all  and seemingly can’t help themselves from losing.  Clemson has their eyes set week to week on getting closer to a playoff birth.  Their offense has looked prolific against lesser opponents but in wins against Louisville and Notre Dame, their defense looked “steady” at least.  Quarterback Deshaun Watson has been more of a game manager than a gunslinger, which is his best option with this offense.  There is so much speed and talent around him, Watson defers to take what the defense gives him and lets his play-makers do the work.  Clemson has a steady defense itself and put the clamps down on a good rushing attack in Georgia Tech last week.  Boston College’s rush game is more straight up the gut, then Georgia Tech’s but it’s hard to believe a team that struggled against Duke and Wake Forest defensive fronts will do much better against Clemson.  The Boston defense is good, but Clemson is a team that is ‘feeling themselves’ right now and they capitalize well off of other team’s mistakes.  The home crowd will be unbearable.

The Pick: Clemson -16.5

Cincinnati Bengals (-3.5) at Buffalo Bills


While writing this, it is currently Tuesday, October 13th and the spread is in favor of the visiting Bengals at three and half points, but you better believe this line will jump up at least, one and half more points.  The reason being,  Bills quarterback Tyrod Taylor has a reported MCL sprain and will “miss some time.”  This means a worse possible scenario for the Bills who are now forced to start former first-round pick E.J. Manuel.  In 2014 Pro Football Focus graded Manuel simply as a “poor” starting quarterback.  His completion percentage hovers at around 58% and has the reaction time of a dead-man in the pocket.   This week Manuel will be going against a Cincinnati Bengals team that might be one of the best in the NFL today.  The Bengals defense gives up, on average, twenty points a game and this Buffalo Bills offense is one that is one-dimensional and currently, terrible at that one dimension – running the ball.  It is very unlikely neither Lesean McCoy or Karlos Williams will be active for this game, leaving the likes of Anthony “Boobie” Dixon who had a disgusting seven carries for nineteen yards against the Titans on Sunday. . . Sure this Bills defense is tough, but they have shown as of late that their secondary needs a lot of help from it’s front seven.  Andy Dalton has looked the best he’s ever looked, and having a huge comeback win against Seattle last week, has certainly boosted the Red Rocket’s confidence.  The Bills defense will be gassed because this offense will not sustain long drives, let alone put up points against this Bengals team.

The Pick: Bengals -3.5

If You Must: The New England Patriots seem almost unbeatable.  This “chip on their shoulder” is legit and they are looking to embarrass teams they face.  The Patriots have always had their way with the Colts and that will not change this time around.  The Colts are 3-2 and riding a three game winning streak in which they struggled to get by three of the leagues worst teams.  Patriots as a -8 favorite is a slam-dunk.

Teaser of the Week: (Four Gamer) – Bengals +8.5, Patriots: +4, Panthers/Seahawks Under 53 and Michigan +3.5

Good Luck and Wager Wisely

G.W. Gras

Twitter @GeeSteelio


Cincinnati Bengals 2015 Preview

Marvin Lewis must know something about somebody high up in the Bengals organization.  He must.  There is no other reason for him to still be employed as head coach of the Bengals.  13 seasons with a record of 100-96-2, with zero wins in the post-season.  The Bengals have had the talent in recent years and still they manage to do barely anything with it.  They have made the playoffs the last four years; but is anybody expecting them to do much more than make the playoffs again?


Andy Dalton gets a lot of the blame that should go to (or be shared with) head coach Marvin Lewis, but that’s just not fair.  Dalton is a decent quarterback with above average talent – that’s enough to win games in this league when things around you are going perfect.  That’s never the case in Cincy though.  In their playoff game last year Dalton was working with the offenses “B Squad” because the team was decimated by injuries.   If Dalton doesn’t start become more assertive in the pocket and doesn’t start avoiding the turnovers – he’ll be a back up for the rest of his career after this season. . .


One would think, having A.J. Green as your number one option at wide receiver would be enough for a quarterback to stay in the Top Ten, but things don’t work that easily in the league.  A.J. Green was bothered by turf toe last season, and sidelined him for three weeks, including last year’s playoff game.  A.J. Green is in a contract year, and it’s expected of him to have a huge season, so he can get pay days similar to Dez Bryant and Demariyus Thomas.   Green is a freakish athlete who attracts a lot of double teams, meaning somebody else has to be open, ANDY!  The problem here is that Cincinnati has never really supplied a great counterpart to Green.  Mohammed Sanu and Marvin Jones are decent wide outs, that can have a nice week or two, but can’t provide enough week to week as a legitimate threat to defenses.  The only hope outside of Green in this passing game is the potential that lies in tight end Tyler Eifert.  Eifert has shown flashes of being a good receiving tight end, but he needs to separate himself from the rest, especially after missing almost all of last season from an elbow injury he suffered in week one.

With Dalton unsteady and Green the only viable force in the passing attack – it’s a good thing the running game is supplied by Jeremy Hill and Giovanni Bernard.  Bernard provides the flash and a real threat in the passing game from the backfield while Hill gives you the traditional size and skill set that can keep him on the field for all three downs.   The Bengals will have to keep these two fresh and offensive coordinator Hue Jackson, must be creative in keeping these two involved in the game plan every week.


The offensive line is gritty one, that helped anchor the Bengals ground game which put up over 2100 yards.  The group returns but Andre Smith is in a contract year but with A.J. Green’s contract looming over this season and considering the contract extension given to offensive tackle Clint Boling – this may be Smith’s last go-round with the Bengals.

The corner backs for the Bengals are two former first round picks that the organization is banking on.  Dre Kirkpatrick has had his ups and downs in three years but this is his time to be the “guy” in the secondary who can take on the oppositions toughest match up.  Darqueze Dennard was drafted last year out of Michigan State and might still be a year away from getting his game right.  Adam Jones has been playing with his head on right lately and he can still slide into the three or two spot on the corner back depth chart if somebody slips up.

Geno Atkins wasn’t the same last year and neither was defensive end Carlos Dunlap.  The Bengals figure things just can’t stay the same and both will get back on their game this year.  If the defensive line has a second year of disappointing the fans in Cincy, expect these line backers to be all over the place.  Good thing for the Bengals is that they are well stocked in that position.


The Bengals signed A.J. Hawk in the off-season, who isn’t as dominant as somebody with a name like “A.J. Hawk” should be – but he’s a smart player with no quit.  His work ethic is infectious will hopefully rub off on the wild man of the group Vontaze Burfict.   Burfict is coming off of a knee injury that shortened his season – Bengals took a gamble on drafting him and then later signing him to an extension.  He is an all out beast, who plays recklessly.  Sometimes too recklessly.  He is also noted as being one of the league’s “dirtier players” which is a title nobody should hold up proudly.  Rey Maualuga is the athletic version of A.J. Hawk.  Good against the run and can get to runners who hit the outside – unlike Hawk.  An interesting addition to the Bengals defense is linebacker Paul Dawson who was taken in the third-round.  Dawson, coming out of TCU, he attacks the ball carriers and tries to blow them up on every attempt.  He is a quick linebacker with great pass rushing potential but on a scale of maturity – he’s closer to Vontaze Burfict than, let’s say. . .an A.J. Hawk.

Predicted Record:  10-6

Predicted Pro Bowlers: A.J. Green, Jeremy Hill, Kevin Zeitler

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio

6 Destinations For Adrian Peterson

With Vikings running back Adrian Peterson now reinstated to play in the league, it’s obvious there will be many teams interested in gaining his services.  Only issue is, Peterson is still under contract with the Minnesota Vikings, a team that he feels did him wrong when he was going through his child abuse issues last season.   Whatever verdict the jury of public opinion holds on Peterson, in football terms – he has served for his crime and is now ready to play.   Peterson is thirty years old and plays a position in which 30 is considered “done.”   Peterson of course is a different kind of athlete, super-human in strength and recovery ability – he’s like the Hulk and Wolverine combined.  Here is a list of six teams that could and should be in play for Peterson’s services.


6.  Dallas Cowboys – Jerry Jones’ crew goes here just because it’s the team linked to Peterson for some time now.  Peterson is from the state of Texas and played his college ball at Oklahoma, the alma-mater of owner Jerry Jones.   The Cowboys lost their star running back Demarco Murray to free agency and have enough money under the cap to make something happen if this is truly Peterson’s desired destination.  The problem with Dallas is that – they have other needs that need a lot more attention – mainly on defense.  Dallas has the best offensive line in football and a nice running back stable under contract as is.   To put more money into this offense really doesn’t make much sense when they have tools to make it happen on that side of the ball already.

5.  Cincinnati Bengals – Before people speak of their admiration for the dual running back threat of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill, let’s be real.  They are both nice backs but Adrian Peterson is great – even at 30.  If Adrian really plays hard ball with the Vikings, the Bengals should be willing to part with a draft pick and one of these backs (presumably Hill) – the Bengals are a team that just make the playoffs and can’t do much else.  It’s becoming a common and annoying trend in the NFL and the fact that Marvin Lewis still has a head coaching job is beyond rational thought.  Andy Dalton usually takes the blame for the team’s losses but he played pretty well in the first round loss last season with about half of his offense actually able to play.  The Bengals really need to shake up things and they have the money and tools to make a game changer like this happen for their franchise.


4. New England Patriots –  Why wouldn’t the sneakiest team in the league give this a shot?  They are limited with cap room, but with the possibility of Peterson maybe restructuring (or the Patriots cutting ties with folks abruptly like they always do. . .) there could be a deadly deal waiting in the near future.  The Patriots have a very limited window to win another championship with Tom Brady and having a running back like Peterson, helps protect Brady for another grueling NFL season.   A player at the end of his career, like Peterson, would most likely be elated at the idea of playing for a team with a championship pedigree.   The Pats have the last pick in the first round and if the Vikings really want to hold out for a first round pick for Peterson, this might be the most realistic chance they have for that.

3.  Indianapolis Colts – The Colts are another team, much like the Cowboys that can use help on the defensive side, but his is a team that might want to make up for their past mistakes.  Remember the Colts were the ones that traded a first round pick to the Browns for Trent Richardson – yeah, that’s called “a swing and a miss.”   The Colts have been depending on Andrew Luck for every and anything that is offensively related, Peterson could ease the young man’s load by a bunch and probably help elevate Luck to his best year yet.  Pagano wants to run the ball at heart anyhow and Peterson would be in a position with an elite quarterback and a team with playoff aspirations.

2.  Oakland Raiders – When the Raiders name came up for the Peterson sweepstakes it seemed like a joke, because for the most part that’s what Raiders rumors are – terrible, terrible jokes.  The Raiders, financially are in in a position where they could “over-pay” Peterson if they wanted to.  For Peterson, this takes him to a team in the midst of rebuilding and working up a second year quarterback in Derek Carr.  If anybody knows anything about football though, it’s that historically, Oakland is where players go to die.  Big name players at the ends of their careers end up here and they usually fizzle out fast.  For the Raiders it would sell  jerseys, but they still wouldn’t be a playoff team, so this move makes little sense  –  which is the Raider way. . .


1.  Minnesota Vikings – Although Peterson and the Vikings have a shaky relationship as of now, the easiest things for both sides would be to apologize and move on.   Peterson is quite frankly the best player in Vikings history and it would mean something for the franchise to keep him there till his career is over.  The Vikings are a team that are not in a bad spot to make a playoff run this upcoming season and from a public relations standpoint – Peterson can really do something for his image by staying with this team when they need him most.  The Vikings won 7 games last season and with Peterson in the backfield, they could very well be a team who can win 9 games this season.   Second year quarterback Teddy Bridgewater seemed to get better as the year went along and that was without elite help around him.

G.W. Gras

twitter @GeeSteelio