The Saints and Bengals face off Sunday in what looks to be one of the more marquee matchups of the week. The Bengals lead the all time series 7-6, and the 2 have split their last 2 matchups.
The Saints are coming off a rollercoaster 44-35 win knocking off the previously undefeated Rams. In week 7, the Saints outlasted the Ravens 24-23, and defeated the Vikings 30-20 in week 8.
The Bengals withstood a Ryan Fitzpatrick comeback in week 8 to defeat the Bucs 37-34, and had a bye this past week. In week 6, the Bengals lost 28-21 to the Steelers, and were dominated by the Chiefs 45-10 in week 7.
Intertops has the Saints as 4.5 point favourites on the road, with the O/U set at 54.
New Orleans Saints
(7-1 overall, 4-0 on the road)
The Saints have won 6 straight after losing their opener against Tampa Bay, most recently taking down the Rams. The Saints offense is one of the top units in the league and deserves to be in the conversation with the Rams and Chiefs as the best. Drew Brees is playing efficiently and effectively, averaging 8.4 yards per attempt and completing 76.3% of his passes. He has only 1 interception on the year opposed to 18 touchdowns, and has thrown for 2336 yards. Michael Thomas has developed into a true #1 receiver this season, ranking 2nd in the NFL in receptions (70), and 4th in yards (880) and has added 5 TDs. Alvin Kamara functions as the teams #2 receiver out of the backfield, and has tallied 51 catches for 427 yards and 3 TDs. Kamara also has 9 rushing TDs and 490 yards on 111 carries this season.
This Saints team has struggled in coverage this season, ranking 2nd to last in passing yards per game at 311.4. They have also allowed 18 passing TDs, tied for 4th worst. In the run game, they rank at the top of the league allowing just 76.4 yards per game, but have given up 8 TDs on the ground. They rank near the bottom of the league with just 4 interceptions and 4 recovered fumbles, and have struggled to rush the passer with just 17 sacks.
EDGE Marcus Davenport (toe) – out
(5-3 overall, 3-1 at home)
After a hot start in the NFL, this Bengals offense has cooled off a bit and become more balanced. Andy Dalton ranks middle of the pack in just about every passing category, completing just 63.4% of his passes for 2102 yards at 7.2 yards per attempt and has thrown 17 TDs to 8 interceptions. A.J. Green is still dominant, but isn’t being featured as much as past years. Green has 45 catches for 687 yards and 6 TDs, while his counterpart Tyler Boyd has come on strongly with 49 catches for 620 yards and 5 TDs of his own. Joe Mixon has missed some time, but has really given this offense another dimension. Mixon has 105 carries for 509 yards and 4 TDs on the ground.
The Bengals are the lone defense that is worse against the pass than the Saints, allowing 319.4 yards per game, and have given up 18 TDs. They are 7th worst against the run, allowing 128.4 yards per game on the ground and 8 TDs this season. They have done a nice job of forcing turnovers, having picked off 10 passes and recovering 3 fumbles, and rank middle of the pack with 21 sacks on the year.
Injuries and Inactive Watch
WR A.J. Green (toe) – out, EDGE Carl Lawson (knee) – placed on IR, TE C.J. Uzomah (shoulder) – questionable
The Saints have shown the ability to outscore anyone, but they have also displayed their ability to give up points in a hurry. Against a soft Bengals defense, the Saints will look to jump out early and ground and pound with Mark Ingram and Alvin Kamara. Brees has done a wonderful job of avoiding turnovers and sacks this season and I don’t see that being a factor this Sunday.
The Bengals should find success against a questionable Saints D through the air however, and they have the playmakers to exploit the Saints coverage. Joe Mixon is not going to find running room, and the Bengals must get him involved in the pass game to utilize his playmaking ability. While I see this being a closer game than many would think, I still think the Saints offense will be too much to overcome.
Final Pick: Saints (-4.5)