Cincinnati Bengals Week 1: Looking at the History of Teams Favored by 9 in Season Opener

    It's been more than a third of a century since the Bengals were favored by as many points in a season opener as they are against the Patriots.

    CINCINNATI – The Cincinnati Bengals are the biggest favorite in Week 1 of the 2024 NFL schedule, opening as nine-point favorites against the New England Patriots.

    Whether that is due to how strong the oddsmakers think the Bengals are or how bad they expect the Patriots to be or a combination of both is unclear.

    But what is certain is that it is a historic line.

    Bengals 9-Point Favorites vs. Patriots in Week 1

    The last time the Bengals were favored by at least that many points in an NFL season opener was 1990 when they were nine-point favorites against the New York Jets.

    League-wide, there have been just 12 teams in the last 12 seasons to be favored by at least nine points in the season opener.

    Unlike Cincinnati, 10 of the previous 11 were coming off playoff seasons. The 2020 San Francisco 49ers were the only other exception, as they were favored by 9.5 against the Detroit Lions in the 2021 opener.

    The Bengals made another appearance in that 12-year window but on the opposite side. They were 9.5-point underdogs to the Seattle Seahawks in the 2019 season opener, the first game of the Zac Taylor era.

    The good news for Bengals fans is that teams favored by at least nine points in the season opener are 14-3 since 2012 and 29-7 since 2000.

    The bad news is that one of the three teams to win as an underdog of at least nine points since 2012 was the Patriots, who upset the Arizona Cardinals (nine-point favorites) 23-21 in the 2016 opener.

    Both New England and Arizona were coming off appearances in their conference championship games, but the Patriots were without Tom Brady due to his Deflategate suspension.

    Jimmy Garoppolo threw for 264 yards and a touchdown to lead New England to the win on the road.

    While the underdogs rarely win, they cover the spread at an outrageous rate. Since 2000, teams that were underdogs of at least nine points in season openers went 24-12 ATS.

    All totaled, Cincinnati has been involved in a season-opening betting line of at least nine points seven times since the 1970 merger — four as the favorite and three as the underdog.

    In six of those seven games, the underdog covered the spread.

    The lone exception was way back in 1971 when the Bengals were 9.5-point favorites against the Philadelphia Eagles and won 37-14.

    READ MORE: Best and Worst NFL Schedules for 2024: Bengals Among Winners

    Cincinnati quarterback Virgil Carter was 22 of 30 for 292 yards with three touchdowns, including a 90-yarder to Speedy Thomas that remains the second-longest in team history (behind Ken Anderson’s 94-yard touchdown to Billy Brooks at Minnesota in 1977).

    Here is a glance at the other six instances:

    2019: Cincinnati Bengals (+9) at Seattle Seahawks

    Andy Dalton threw for 418 yards, and John Ross had the best game of his career with seven catches for 158 yards and two touchdowns as the Bengals led 17-14 heading into the fourth quarter.

    But Russell Wilson’s 44-yard touchdown to Tyler Lockett put Seattle ahead for good in a 21-20 victory.

    1999: Cincinnati Bengals (+9) at Tennessee Titans

    One of the wildest — and hottest (84 degrees) — openers in team history, the Bengals fell behind 26-7 midway through the second quarter before rallying to score 28 unanswered points.

    Doug Pelfrey’s 38-yard field goal with 7:56 to go put Cincinnati ahead 35-26, but the Titans got a 17-yard touchdown pass from Steve McNair to Eddie George with 4:30 remaining, then kicker Al Del Greco hit a 33-yard game-winner with eight ticks left on the clock.

    1990: New York Jets (+9) at Cincinnati Bengals

    In a parallel to this year, the Bengals were nine-point favorites despite missing the playoffs the previous season.

    Down 20-10 in the fourth quarter, the Bengals scored 15 unanswered points on James Brooks’ three-yard touchdown pass from Boomer Esiason, David Fulcher’s sack of Ken O’Brien for a safety, and Jim Breech field goals of 44 and 37 yards.

    1977: Cleveland Browns (+11) at Cincinnati Bengals

    The Bengals not only didn’t cover the spread, they barely scored 25% of it in a 13-3 loss to the Browns.

    1975: Cleveland Browns (+10) at Cincinnati Bengals

    In Paul Brown’s final opener as head coach, the Bengals took advantage of six Cleveland fumbles and raced out to a 24-3 lead on a touchdown pass from Ken Anderson to Isaac Curtis and rushing touchdowns by Boobie Clark and Lenvil Elliott.

    1970: Oakland Raiders (-11) at Cincinnati Bengals

    The Raiders were heavy favorites coming off a 12-1-1 campaign in John Madden’s first season as head coach, but the Bengals struck first on a five-yard touchdown run by Sam Wyche.

    Cincinnati running back Jess Phillips broke a 21-21 tie with a 76-yard touchdown run late in the third quarter in a game that would spark the Bengals to an 8-6 season and the first playoff berth in franchise history.

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