The bottom line is I make the Atlanta Falcons (3-3) a 5-point underdog when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals (3-3) at Paycor Stadium in Week 7 but the Falcons are getting 6.5 points.
It’s usually smart to fade a team like the Falcons in a let-down spot after upsetting the San Francisco 49ers 28-14 as home underdogs last weekend. Fading the Falcons might not be wise though considering they are now 6-0 against the spread (ATS).
Cincy’s Week 6 cover and win at the New Orleans Saints is a bit misleading. The Saints were in the lead for most of the game and Bengals WR Ja’Marr Chase scored a go-ahead 60-yard TD in the final two minutes thanks to a blown tackle by NOLA.
The Falcons are the right side here because Atlanta head coach Arthur Smith’s scheme is a fit with QB Marcus Mariota and the Bengals cannot stop the run.
Betting Details (DraftKings)
- Moneyline: Falcons (+235), Bengals (-280)
- ATS: FALCONS -6.5 (-105), Bengals +6.5 (-115)
- Total (O/U) — 47 — O: -115, U: -105
Atlanta QB Marcus Mariota’s resurgence
Mariota is objectively playing good football. He’s only a game manager but Atlanta’s offense is 7th in expected points added per play (EPA/play). Also, I get Ryan Tannehill vibes with Mariota.
As offensive coordinator of the Tennessee Titans, Smith turned Tannehill’s career around when he took over for a then-injured Mariota in 2019.
Tannehill and Mariota have a similar player profile and Mariota can execute a lot of the concepts Smith brought with him from Tennessee. And this Atlanta-Mariota thing is working.
The Falcons have one of the best run games in the NFL and a lot of that has to do with Mariota’s mobility. He is 9th in QBR and Atlanta’s ground game will trample the Bengals.
Falcons’ elite rushing attack
Atlanta is 1st in adjusted rushing efficiency, according to Football Outsiders, and Cincy’s defense is 21st in rushing EPA/play. The Falcons have the 2nd-biggest run blocking edge in Week 7, per Pro Football Focus. Atlanta has gained at least 151 rushing yards in five of six games this season.
NOLA rushed for 228 yards on 34 carries last weekend vs. the Bengals, which is alarming. The Saints were missing their top-three WRs with a backup starting QB. So Cincy could’ve stacked the box to stop New Orleans’ rushing attack.
The fact the Bengals couldn’t stop the Saints in obvious situations gives me faith the Falcons will have success running the ball. All of a sudden Atlanta plus the points looks appealing if we are confident the Falcons can run the ball.
Finally, the market is still too low on Atlanta despite its ATS winning streak. The Falcons’ 2022 resume is more impressive thus far than the Bengals’. There are too many ways Atlanta can keep this game within a 6-point margin.
BET: Falcons +6.5 (-105) at DraftKings Sportsbook, all the way down to +5.5
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