NFL Week 6 Upset Alert: Saints Are a Live Underdog vs. Bengals

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The Cincinnati Bengals and New Orleans Saints are two of the 11 NFL teams stuck with a 2-3 record. Since 1990, 22.4% of 2-3 teams end up making the playoffs, so you could still see about three of these teams turn it around before it is too late this year.

The Saints are coming off an exciting 39-32 win over Seattle, but they are still a 2-point home underdog at many of the top-rated sportsbooks.

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Can the Saints put together a winning streak, or will the Bengals avoid starting 2-4 following their Super Bowl season? Let’s see what the NFL odds tell us for this matchup.

Cincinnati Bengals vs. New Orleans Saints

Sunday, October 16, 2022 – 01:00 PM EDT at Caesars Superdome

Short-handed Saints Are Fighting Hard

You might think the Saints would struggle with Jameis Winston, Alvin Kamara, Michael Thomas, and Jarvis Landry missing one or two of their last two games, but the offense has been at its best this season with Andy Dalton as starting quarterback. Some of that is the schedule of opposing defenses (Vikings and Seahawks), but Dalton is doing a solid job like you want to see from a backup.

The Saints were a double-doink field goal miss in London from taking the Vikings to overtime. They just scored 39 points on the Seahawks with Taysom Hill going wild for three rushing touchdowns.

Issues With the Defense

Surprisingly, the bigger problem is the defense again. The Saints are 12th in scoring but 25th in points allowed. Dennis Allen was the defensive coordinator and by being promoted to head coach, the thought was he would have this side of the ball locked down. Instead, the Saints are back to allowing 25.6 points per game and the defense has only one interception in five games.

Injuries are a big deal as always this season, but the 2022 season seems even more pronounced about the impact of injuries, especially with the brand new concussion protocol. Rookie receiver Chris Olave was the best healthy option the Saints had left, but he exited Sunday’s game with a concussion and is in the protocol. His status is uncertain for Sunday, but it seems likely the Saints can get Thomas and Landry back this week.

We know if Dalton is still the quarterback, he will be motivated to play well against Cincinnati, his drafted team.

The bigger problem may be the availability of top corner Marshon Lattimore, who left with an abdominal injury on Sunday. This is the matchup where the Saints need him most, as the Bengals have three quality wide receivers in Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd.

But the Saints do need to protect the ball better. They have a league-high 13 giveaways, including a league-worst seven lost fumbles – no other team has lost more than five fumbles. The presence of Dalton over Winston has actually helped keep these numbers down, but the ball protection needs to be better at every position on this offense.

Bengals Continue to Struggle with Expectations

The Bengals have gone from a surprise Super Bowl team to a disappointing 2-3 start, but maybe they just overachieved last year and are still a work in progress under head coach Zac Taylor. The coach calls the offensive plays too and has drawn plenty of criticism on that front, as the Bengals rank nearly last in the NFL in yards per play (4.8) after having an explosive offense in 2021 with much of the same pieces.

Bengal's Offensive Lineup

The offensive line was supposed to be much improved, but that has not quite worked out so far. Joe Burrow has fortunately taken just five sacks in the last three games combined after being dropped 13 times in the first two games.

Things are easier when you’re not facing T.J. Watt (Steelers) or Micah Parsons (Cowboys), but the Saints have a great pass rusher in Cameron Jordan, who needs to be a force in this matchup if New Orleans is going to pull off the upset. But despite the presence of Burrow and that great receiving corps for the Bengals, this offense ranks below the injury-ridden Saints in several categories through Week 5, including points scored and yards per play, where the Saints (6.0) rank No. 5 and the Bengals are No. 30 (4.8).

While the Saints have allowed at least 20 points in every game, the offense has put them in bad positions with the 13 giveaways. From a situational standpoint, the Saints are doing a great job on defense. Offenses are only converting 29.9% of the time on third down, the second-best rate in the league for a defense this year. The Saints are also second in the red zone, allowing a touchdown on just 4-of-12 trips (33.3%).

Nine of the 10 games between these teams this season have been within one score in the fourth quarter. It should be another tight game on Sunday.

Bengals vs. Saints: Pick and Prediction

Last Sunday was really the first time this year the Saints played a game in the Superdome with a starting quarterback who did not have four fractured vertebrae in his back, and the team scored a season-high 39 points.

Not every run defense is as bad as Seattle, but the Saints may be on to something again with using Taysom Hill as a runner to go with Kamara, and hopefully, they can have their trio of receivers together again for this matchup.

But this is a game where Jordan needs to lead a strong pass rush against Burrow and rack up some sacks to give his team a good chance to pull out the upset win for your NFL picks.

NFL Pick: Saints ML (+115) at Bovada (visit our Bovada Review)

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Saints ML (+115)
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*The line and/or odds on picks in this article might have moved since the content was commissioned. For updated line movements, visit BMR’s free betting odds product.