This weekend, the 3-7 New York Giants will head to Cincinnati to face the Bengals for only the 11th time. Although the Bengals lead the regular-season series 6-4, the Giants are still the early favorites in the oddsmakers' eyes, as they open as a five-point favorite on the road.
Of interest in this series is that in each meeting, the visiting team has yet to win the game. Can the Giants, who in their last visit to the Bengals on November 11, 2012, lost 31-13, finally break this trend?
ATS: -5 New York Giants
Moneyline: +190 Cincinnati Bengals /-233 New York Giants
This is only the second time this season the Giants have opened the week as the favorite, but there’s a good reason for the oddsmakers to like them this week, despite the Giants (3-7) having one more win than the Bengals (2-7-1).
The Giants are not only on a roll in having won their last two games in a row, but they have also beat the spread on their previous four games.
The Bengals also will be without their promising rookie quarterback Joe Burrow, who tore his ACL in his left knee in Sunday’s loss to the Washington Football Team.
Barring a roster move, second-year pro Ryan Finley is projected to start for the Bengals Sunday. Finley has appeared in four games since being drafted in the fourth round last year out of North Carolina State.
He’s completed 41 of 87 passes (47.1%) for 474 yards and two touchdowns, and two interceptions, all of that coming in his rookie season last year.
Finley will be lining up behind an offensive line that has allowed 36 sacks this season, or one sack per every 11.52 attempts. That's not good news when facing a team like the Giants, who have recorded at least two sacks in every game played and who have 10.0 sacks in their last four games.
Speaking of sacks, the Bengals defense has mustered up just 13 against opposing offensive lines, which could be good news for the Giants young group as they go through their first week under the direction of new offensive line coach Dave DeGuglielmo.
Now let’s take a look at this week’s Over/Under of 42.5. The Bengals have averaged 21.3 points per game, but they’ve scored 19 points combined in their last two games.
With Burrow done for the year and Finley still having to play behind a shaky offensive line, Cincinnati’s best hope is to try to run the ball.
That might work except for one small problem. The Giants' run defense has been stingy of late, allowing opponents a season average of 100.9 yards on the ground, but 90.3 yards/game in the last three and an even better 90.4 yards/game on the road.
The Giants have risen up the charts in average points scored per game. They sit 12th in the league with a 23.6 average, and after struggling to score at least 20 points in their first four games of the year, they have scored at least 20 in every game since.
Defensively, except for the Week 3 loss to the 49ers (36) and the Week 5 loss to the Cowboys (37), opponents have averaged 20.3 points against the Giants.
Based on these averages, this could be the week to take the over, especially since the Bengals defense is allowing teams an average of 27.0 points per game, 11th most in the league.
Given that the Giants leading scorer, kicker Graham Gano (79 points), is currently stricken by the COVID-19 virus, making his availability for Sunday’s game too close to call, it might be best to exercise caution before thinking that the Giants stand a chance of not just a victory but one by a large enough margin to take the over.