Let’s rewind 17 months. Heading into the 2021 season, my metrics had Cincinnati 28th out of 32 NFL teams.
Second year QB Joe Burrow was recovering from a knee injury, and the pundits had all kinds of questions about his offensive line. There wasn’t much faith in the defense either if Cincinnati landed in the bottom five of the league.
In contrast to expectations, Cincinnati had a remarkable season and made it to the Super Bowl. However, that didn’t answer all of the questions about this team. Based on data from the 2021 season, all adjusted for strength of schedule by my algorithms, Cincinnati ranked 9th in the NFL.
The Bengals were a solid team in 2021, one with hopes of breaking out of the fat middle of the NFL. However, they should not have made it to the Super Bowl past Kansas City.
In the current 2022 season, Cincinnati got off to a slow 2-3 start. They didn’t look like Super Bowl contenders in week 8 when they got stomped by Cleveland 32-13 on Monday Night Football.
However, the numbers told a different story about Cincinnati. Based on the adjusted metrics from the current season, Cincinnati ranks 4th, in the range of Super Bowl contenders. The quants went running towards the Bengals like the New York Jets to the Senior Bowl QB practice.
The Cincinnati pass offense has made a significant jump. Let’s look at their passing success rate adjusted for opponent the past two seasons:
- 2021 – 11th
- 2022 – 2nd
A part of this improvement comes from negative plays. Burrow has been sacked 45 times this season compared to 70 last season. While some might attribute this to off season additions to the offensive line, sacks tend to be a QB statistic.
Against Buffalo, Cincinnati didn’t have three starters on the offensive line, and C Ted Karras played through a knee injury. Burrow got sacked once, and the Bengals had a sparkling 58.3% passing success rate (42.8% NFL average) in a complete domination.
For the AFC Championship Game, the markets opened with Kansas City as the favorite over Cincinnati. However, the spread moved towards Cincinnati, as some books had the road Bengals -2.5 on Tuesday.
This might show support for Cincinnati because of their performance at Buffalo. However, the market also might have inside information on the ankle injury to Kansas City QB Patrick Mahomes. He missed a series against Jacksonville but came back into the game with limited mobility.
Over the past few days, the market has shifted again to Kansas City as the favorite. Maybe some sharps had the time to process that Cincinnati was fortunate to beat Baltimore during Wild Card weekend.
Baltimore had 364 yards with backup QB Tyler Huntley compared to 234 for Cincinnati. The difference in the game was a long fumble return by Cincinnati.
My member predictions like Kansas City by 3.8 points over Cincinnati. Despite the improvement of the Bengals, my predictive analytics rates Kansas City as the better team.
My numbers assume Mahomes will be 100%, which he won’t be. However, if you believe Mahomes’s first practice Thursday went better than expected, then I’d lean towards Kansas City -1.
How to bet interception props
Picks are random. When a defender gets a hand on a pass, sometimes it falls harmlessly to the ground. Other times, it ends up in the hands of the defense.
In a 20 minute audio episode, I describe a better way to predict picks than a QB’s interception rate. It is helpful to count an expanded set of events.
This new metric is used to evaluate rookie San Francisco QB Brock Purdy and identify a prop bet for the NFL Conference Championship games.
There are multiple ways to get this audio content.
- Become a member of The Power Rank and get my best analytics and predictions all year long.
- Support The Football Analytics Show podcast on Patreon.
- Get the 20 minute audio episode as a separate product.
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