Cincinnati and Atlanta meet for the second straight year in the preseason tonight at the Georgia Dome
The Falcons have enjoyed a consistent climb in five years under HC Mike Smith and today against the Cincinnati Bengals, Atlanta looks to take its first step toward a goal they came just one win short of in January – a berth in the Super Bowl.
[dropcap2]S[/dropcap2]mith is 7-13 SU and 10-10 ATS in preseason games with the Falcons and by adding RB Steven Jackson to the mix with returning TE Tony Gonzalez and WRs Julio Jones and Roddy White, there is little for this to prove in the next few weeks. Atlanta is having issues at left tackle so we won’t see much of Matt Ryan in this game, probably one or two series. Sam Baker has a history of back problems (he missed 16 games in five seasons), Will Svitek, now with New England, started in 11 games for Baker in the 2011 season in place of Baker. Veteran LT Tyson Clabo was released and projected replacement Mike Johnson suffered a dislocated left ankle and fractured fibula in practice earlier this week so we’ll see Lamar Holmes, a third-round pick in 2012 in this game.
After Ryan, the Falcons QB rotation reads Dominique Davis and rookie Sean Renfree. The Bengals quarterback rotation is Andy Dalton, Josh Johnson, John Skelton and Zac Robinson (elbow injury.) WR AJ Green is out for this game and other injuries included Tyrone Goard, Andrew Whitworth, Brandon Thompson, Alex Smith, Reid Fragel, Andrew Hawkins, Chris Pressley and Bernard Scott.
Bengals HC Marvin Lewis has 20 overs and 21 unders in all preseason games and on the surface that appears to be very “vanilla” but looking into the first half of those contests I’ve uncovered this data:
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The Bengals are 4–2 to the over in the first half in their first preseason game as long as it was a road contest (no neutral sites)
One of those Week 1 road games was at Tampa Bay and there’s no way I’d ever play an over in that heat and humidity, especially in their first game of the season. So, if we eliminate that game the Bengals are 4–1 to the over in the first half of those five road contests with Lewis on the sidelines since he became head coach in 2003.
Smith is 9-11 to the under in his 20 preseason games and as for first half scores in the opener, Atlanta is 3–2 to the over in Smith’s five games as their head coach.
I like the fact these two teams scrimmaged vs. one another this week in Atlanta. Skelton should be able to put up some points for the Bengals vs. second and third stringers as he had 20 starts in three years for the Cardinals. Johnson started 26 games for the Buccaneers in three seasons and has had a really good camp and the buzz word in Cincinnati is suggesting he will be Dalton’s back-up.
The first-half total is 19.5 and after 17, pretty much everything is a dead number up to 20 so for my selection I’ve played one unit on the first-half going “Over” 19.5 points.
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