In a matchup of two .500 teams coming off a win, the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) visit the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) on Sunday, October 23 at Paycor Stadium. While they are tied in the standings, the storylines on these two teams could not be more different.
The Falcons being 3-3 comes as a bit of a surprise for a team that entered the season expecting this to be a transition year after trading away longtime franchise QB Matt Ryan. The Falcons have been feisty and are the only team in the league that is 6-0 against the spread this season. Depending on how you look at it, the 3-3 start might be a good thing or a bad thing for a rebuilding team hoping to accumulate draft capital, but either way it’s a sign that the Falcons are not as bad as they were expected to be.
On the other hand, the Bengals may be experiencing the dreaded post-Super Bowl slump that has led to their disappointing 3-3 start, which has included two losses within the AFC North division. But after an 0-2 start, Cincinnati has won three of its last four and Joe Burrow is coming off his best game of the season in a road win over the Saints last week.
Let’s take a look at the odds, injuries and depth charts for this Falcons vs. Bengals matchup, and see my picks and predictions for the game.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds
The Bengals opened as 6.5-point home favorites with moneyline odds ranging from -275 to -325. Considering the Bengals’ struggles this year and the Falcons’ surprisingly good start, Atlanta doesn’t seem to be getting much respect from oddsmakers with that big of a line. Bettors seem to agree, as about two-thirds of the money is on the Falcons in the early action.
The over/under for this matchup opened at 45 and has already moved up to 47.5, the second-highest number on the week seven slate. That number might move up even further, as over 90% of the early money is coming in on the over. With both offenses showing that they can put up points, and neither defense being particularly strong, it’s not surprising to see a relatively high total expected.
Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction
This matchup does not set up well for the Falcons. The best way to slow down Joe Burrow and the Bengals’ offense is by attacking the weak offensive line and getting pressure on the quarterback. The Falcons generate pressure at the worst rate in the league and have just eight sacks through six games. The lack of pressure is part of the reason the Falcons are last in the league at defending the pass, giving up over 280 yards per game through the air. Burrow can likely exhale ahead of this matchup, as he should be able to keep his jersey relatively clean and have plenty of time to find his dynamic receivers down the field.
The Falcons’ offense is not exactly built to play from behind. In their three wins this season, they have never trailed by more than three points, while they have fallen behind by three scores in two of their three losses. They are one of the run-heaviest teams in the league, with the second-most rushing attempts and third-most rushing yards in the league so far this season. If their weak pass defense gives up a few early touchdowns to Burrow and company, they might have a hard time catching up.
On the other hand, if the Falcons can establish the run and score early, they can win the time of possession battle and keep Joe Burrow off the field. That has been a big part of the recipe behind their 6-0 record against the spread.
The Bengals have not really done enough this season to inspire much confidence in them covering a 6.5-point spread against an underrated Falcons team. I would not be surprised if the Falcons find a way to win this game outright, so I’m going to avoid the moneyline but I’m going to take the points. I’m also going to fade the public and take the under, especially if the line moves up any higher.
My prediction: Bengals win 26-21, Falcons cover, under 47.5 points
- The Falcons are 6-0 ATS to start the 2022 season, the only team in the NFL with a perfect mark ATS.
- The Bengals are 10-1 ATS in their last 11 games following an ATS win and 8-1 in their last nine games following a straight-up win.
- The Bengals are 12-2 ATS in their last 14 games overall.
- The Under is 7-1 in the Falcons’ last eight games following a straight-up win and 7-0 in the Bengals’ last seven games following a straight-up win.
- The Under is 10-1 in the Bengals’ last 11 games overall.
Atlanta Falcons Injuries: CB AJ Terrell (Q – thigh), CB Casey Hayward (Q – shoulder), OLB Adetokunbo Ogundeji (Q – shoulder), ILB Mykal Walker (Q – groin)
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries: DE Jeff Gunter (Q – knee), LB Logan Wilson (Q – shoulder)
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Atlanta Falcons vs. Cincinnati Bengals below.
Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase vs. Falcons CB AJ Terrell
One of the best wide receivers in the league matches up with one of the best cornerbacks in the league. Last time these two faced each other was in the 2020 College Football Playoffs Championship, when Chase absolutely smoked Terrell multiple times and racked up 221 yards and two touchdowns.
Ja’marr Chase vs AJ Terrell pic.twitter.com/4zKujVeTWA
— Wincy (@WincinnatiPod) October 18, 2022
To be fair, plenty of very talented NFL cornerbacks got cooked by Chase in college.
This great matchup might be spoiled by a thigh injury Terrell suffered last week against the 49ers, but by all accounts he was held out of the rest of that game for precautionary reasons and should be ready to go this week.
As mentioned above, the Falcons have the worst pass defense in the league this season, and even a 100% healthy Terrell might struggle to contain a dynamic weapon like Chase. If the Falcons can’t slow him down, they might have a longer night than Clemson did in January 2020.
Falcons’ rushing attack vs. Bengals’ defensive front
As mentioned above, Falcons coach Arthur Smith runs one of the run-heaviest offenses in the league, and the Bengals are vulnerable against the run, ranking 22nd in the league with 121 rushing yards allowed per game. Over the last two weeks they have allowed an average of 191.5 yards against the Ravens and Saints.
Those teams both used mobile quarterbacks (if you can really call Taysom Hill a quarterback) to attack the Bengals, and gained 97 yards on 17 carries. Marcus Mariota is not quite the threat that Jackson or even Hill is, but he can do some damage on the ground as well with 206 yards (34.3 per game, 4.8 per carry) so far this season.
Atlanta is still missing Cordarrelle Patterson, but Tyler Allgeier (4.4 yards per carry) and Caleb Huntley (4.3) have filled in well to give the Falcons a formidable one-two punch in the backfield. The Bengals’ ability to stop the run (or lack thereof) will have a big impact on the outcome of this game.