Free NFL Picks: Cincinnati at Atlanta 10-24-2010

October 19, 2010

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Cincinnati Bengals at Atlanta Falcons

Sunday October 24th, 2010 1:00 PM EST

Line: Atlanta -3 1/2

Overview:

The 2-3 Bengals travel to Atlanta to take on the 4-2 Falcons. The Bengals are coming off a much needed bye week after losing to the Buccaneers and the Browns in succession going into the bye week. Before being beaten by the Eagles last week, the Falcons looked like they were going to emerge as an elite team in the NFC. Now, the NFC looks more wide open than ever. The Bengals will try to look like they did when they beat the Baltimore Ravens, rather than the team they have looked like of late. With both teams having something to prove, this is a must win game for both sides.

Keys to the Game:

  • Carson Palmer remains the problem for the Bengals offense. T.O. has become everything the Bengals hoped he would be and Chad Ocho Cinco is having a solid year. What remains unclear is why Palmer, who throughout his career has been the leader of the Bengals franchise, is struggling to hit his receivers. Palmer has a 78.3 quarterback rating. What is most troubling about his performance is his inability to take advantage of his weapons. By being consistently off target on his throws, especially down the field, he is not giving his receivers an opportunity to catch the ball in stride. Chad Ocho Cinco might be able to come up with a big fifteen yard gain, despite having to come back for the ball, but Palmer’s accuracy has been the difference between a first down and six points. Palmer has been given the benefit of the doubt all year. He is running out of chances, as the Bengals approach mid-season.
  • The Falcons don’t need Michael Turner in the red zone. Turner is still a staple of their offense, but his services are at their best when they are getting in a position to score. In the past, Turner has been the go to guy in the end zone. This year, Turner has been held to only one touchdown all season long. The Falcons have made it clear that they like to put the ball in the air when they get close to the end zone. They target sure handed receivers like Roddy White and Tony Gonzalez rather than trying to muscle it in. Turner will need to show up on Sunday with a big game in order to put his team in a position to score. He was held to only 45 yards on the ground last week, which made it tougher for Matt Ryan to be successful.
  • The Bengals are the most overrated team in the NFL. They had an outstanding year last year, sweeping one of the most competitive divisions in the NFL. They gained confidence this year after beating their division rival Baltimore Ravens. They have only beaten the 0-5 Panthers on the road. When describing the Bengals, it is easy to use the word inconsistent, but overrated has become increasingly more fitting. If the Bengals want to reconcile their dignity, they need to obtain another key victory. They can’t reap the benefits from the Baltimore win for the whole season. If they drop to 2-4, the teams they have lost to are going to seem more relevant.
  • The Falcons needed their loss against the Eagles last week. People were putting them in the Super Bowl, so losing badly to the Eagles in an experience they can learn from. Just because the Falcons lost does not mean they should be written off completely. One poor outing does spell doom for the rest of the season. The NFC is wide open and the Falcons have already beaten their division rival Saints. Even if they come up short in the NFC South, they look like a shoe in for a Wild Card spot. Atlanta gets a pass for their game last week, but they need to be careful to not get down on themselves. A win over Cincinnati won’t tell us much about the Falcons, but a loss could spell disaster.

Wrap Up:

The Bengals are becoming less and less difficult to read. There are holes all over their roster and the Falcons will look to capitalize on their inadequacies. The Bengals are going to find it tough to recover if they drop to 2-4 this week. They still face the Steelers twice, the Ravens on the road, the Colts, the Saints, and the Jets. a six win season might be in store if they can’t get it turned around this week against the Falcons. Unfortunately, it seems highly unlikely. Given that the Falcons are at home, I say they win with ease in this one.

Free NFL Pick: Atlanta -3 1/2


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