Andy Dalton might have more pressure riding on his shoulder than any quarterback in the NFL this year.
The Cincinnati Bengals are quickly becoming the darling team of sleepertown, surging from 45-to-1 Super Bowl odds to 25-to-1 in just the span of a few weeks. The Baltimore Ravens‘ preseason struggles and loss of Dennis Pitta surely helped clear the way Cincy’s odds skyrocketing, but a lot of it has come down to shrewd personnel moves and sensible drafting of high-ceiling prospects in recent seasons.
Offensive coordinator Jay Gruden is gearing an offense around Dalton’s abilities (and arm limitations, I presume). If he can utilize these weapons in a quick-hitting pass scheme and avoid his typical inconsistencies then Cincy’s ascension to AFC North favorites could be very much warranted.
(The first number is from Aug. 24; the second in parenthesis from roughly three months ago to illustrate the change of perception over the offseason.)
Super Bowl Odds: 25-to-1 (45-to-1)
Division Title Odds: +175 (+200)
Season Win Total Line: 8.5 (8.5)
Late-May Snapshot: “The additions of tight end Tyler Eifert in Round 1 and receiving-capable tailback Gio Bernard in the second round make this offense all that more intriguing, as it already possessed an elite pass-blocking unit. Yet, the Bengals are only getting 8.5 season win total in Vegas and a +200 to win the AFC North title along with middle-of-the-pack 45-to-1 Super Bowl odds,” I wrote earlier this offseason.
Eifert and Bernard are the perfect pieces for an offense run under a relatively weak-armed quarterback. Dalton’s not stretching defenses in the fashion that Joe Flacco or Cam Newton can, and trust him discerning which dangerous weapon will be open quickly and Cincy tallying up the YAC. This team is stacked on offense and defense, so now it all comes down to Dalton for the Bengals to come through as Bovada’s new AFC North favorites.