Falcons vs Bengals NFL Week 7 Picks, Prediction

Falcons vs Bengals NFL Week 7 Picks, Prediction article feature image

Cooper Neill/Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow (No. 9).

  • The Falcons are road underdogs today in Cincinnati.
  • Atlanta enters this matchup with the Bengals at 6-0 against the spread.
  • Cody Goggin breaks down the matchup and explains his betting pick below.

Falcons vs. Bengals Odds

Sunday, Oct. 23
1 p.m. ET
Falcons Odds+6.5
Bengals Odds-6.5
Moneyline+245 / -300
Odds via FanDuel.

Atlanta has been one of the biggest surprises in the league this year. Through six weeks, the Falcons are sitting at 3-3 and tied for first place in the NFC South. Atlanta will be traveling to take on the Bengals, who are also sitting at 3-3 and tied for their division lead. 

The Falcons' running game has been their strength this season and has powered them to most of their success. The same cannot be said about Cincinnati’s run defense, leading towards a possible mismatch that presents a betting opportunity.

Let's break down the game and find our Falcons vs. Bengals pick below.

Falcons vs. Bengals Matchup Analysis

Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Falcons and Bengals match up statistically:

Falcons vs. Bengals DVOA Breakdown
Overall DVOA78
Pass DVOA138
Rush DVOA116
Overall DVOA2129
Pass DVOA1923
Rush DVOA2325

Arthur Smith has this Atlanta offense performing well above expectation this season. The Falcons rank seventh in the league in EPA per play and eighth in offensive success rate

This success has been fueled largely by their strong running game. Atlanta runs the ball at the second-highest rate in the league, at 57.22%. With this heavy volume of rushing, the Falcons rank fifth in rushing success rate. They are averaging the third-highest mark in the NFL in rushing yards per game with 165.2.

This run-first scheme has opened things up for Marcus Mariota to pass, as well, when they actually decide to do so. Atlanta ranks seventh in both dropback EPA per play and dropback success rate. Mariota has 65 pass attempts off of play action this season, according to Pro Football Focus. This ranks as the sixth-highest total usage of play action in the league and makes up an astounding 47.4% of his total pass attempts. This has led to Mariota having the fifth highest ADOT in the league at 10 yards per target.

Unfortunately for Cincinnati, stopping the run is not one of its strengths. The Bengals have done well against the pass this year but rank 21st in EPA per play allowed on rushes and 16th in rushing success rate. As a team, the Bengals rank 23rd in PFF run defense grades.

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Linebacker Logan Wilson will be out this week, as well as defensive lineman D.J. Reader, who is the key to Cincinnati's run-stopping ability. Of players that have played over 20% of their teams’ run defense snaps, Reader ranks first in the entire league with an 18.2% run stop rate. This is 2.2% higher than the next closest player. 

With Reader on the IR, the Bengals run defense has been much worse. Reader went down in the team’s Week 3 contest against New York. Through the first three weeks of the season, the Bengals had a 33.8% success rate allowed on run plays, which was 5th best in the league over that time period. From weeks 4-6, Cincinnati is allowing a 47% rushing success rate, which is 28th in the league. 

The Bengals offense has not been where it was last year. They rank 15th in EPA per play and 14th in success rate. The passing attack has been heavily reliant on big plays again, as they are sixth in EPA per dropback, but just 14th on dropback success rate. Cincinnati’s running game has been their main issue this year, ranking 28th in EPA per rush and 26th in rushing success rate.

Atlanta’s defense has been around league average against the pass this season. They rank 18th in both EPA per dropback allowed and dropback success rate allowed and are 12th in PFF coverage grade. The Falcons’ run defense has been their largest problem, ranking 31st in success rate against, but this Bengals’ rushing attack is not one to take advantage of that potential mismatch.

Betting Picks

These two teams this season have been in a similar tier and their records reflect this. The mismatch of the Atlanta rushing game against this Cincinnati defense will be the one to watch as it is the matchup that I think gives Atlanta a chance to keep this game close and possibly even come out of Paycor Stadium with a victory. 

A line of 6.5 is too high for a game against similarly-rated teams. My numbers would have the Bengals as 4- to 4.5-point favorites, so I will take the Falcons at 6 or higher to cover this spread.

Quickslip: Falcons +6.5 | Bet to +6

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