The Cincinnati Bengals might not be the worst team in the NFL–that’s arguably the Detroit Lions–but they’ve got the worst record in the league at 1-13. They also have the dubious distinction of being the only team in the NFL without at least one road win. They have a solid chance of getting rid of the ‘o-fer’ on Sunday as they travel to South Florida to take on the Miami Dolphins.
Miami began the year as the worst team in the NFL bar none. For awhile, sportsbooks were offering prop odds on the Dolphins going winless. To their credit, they’ve played hard for head coach Brian Flores in the second half of the season. Miami is definitely a talent deprived team but they’re exerting a decent effort in most weeks. Just look at the trajectory of their season–they opened the year going 0-4 SU/ATS losing by an average of 34.2 PPG. They lost to Washington at home on October 13 but covered, losing by 1 as a +6 underdog. This began a 5 game winning streak against the spread that included a pair of SU wins. The market has caught up with the Dolphins and they’re 2-3 ATS since then but they’ve taken the money in 7 of their last 10 games.
Despite the Dolphins being at home and turning in a decent effort more often than not they’re now underdogs. They opened as -2.5 favorites but money has shown for the Bengals and they’re now -1 or -1.5 just about everywhere with a few places showing -2. Cincinnati definitely has more talent than Miami. They’re also better defensively giving up almost 6 PPG fewer than the Dolphins (Miami 31.1 PPG against, Cincy 25.6 PPG against). The Bengals have been a very solid road team not only this year but for the past three years. They’re 0-6 SU on the road this season but 4-2 ATS. Last 3 years they’re 5-17 SU on the road but 15-7 ATS. They’re 9-2 ATS in their last 11 road games.
Cincy has the worst run defense in the NFL giving up 158 yards per game on the ground. Their pass defense isn’t bad ranking #15 in the NFL allowing 233.7 yards per game. This makes for a bad tactical matchup for Miami–the Dolphins are dead last in the NFL in rushing yards per game at 71.2 yards per game. Their entire *team* hasn’t topped 1000 yards rushing for the season (997 yards to date). The Dolphins have the second worst rushing defense in the league and the bad news for them is that Cincy has a back that can exploit this vulnerability. Joe Mixon has 925 rushing yards for the season and is coming off of two strong performances-136 yards against New England last week and 146 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland on 12/8.
The narrative in the media is that the big concern for both of these teams is getting the first pick in the draft. That’s nonsense–even players on bad teams are competitors first and go out and try to win. If the Bengals come with their usual effort they should win this game with relative ease. We’ll also look for this contest to stay ‘Under’ the total. Bengals have gone ‘Under’ in 5 of 6 road games this season.