Last week the 7-1 New Orleans Saints did what eight other NFL teams failed to do, and that’s to defeat the Los Angeles Rams in 2018. Future hall-of-fame quarterback Drew Brees threw four touchdowns to four separate receivers while Second-team All-Pro running back Alvin Kamara scored twice on the ground and once through the air. After being tied 35-35 in the fourth quarter, the Saints won this thriller in the end, 45-35.
Brees connected with wide receiver Michael Thomas 12 times for 211 yards and a touchdown and three times with tight end Benjamin Watson, acquired in the offseason from the Ravens, who caught for 62 yards and a score. If the Saints did all that against the Rams 13th ranked defense, imagine what they’ll do against a much weaker Bengals defense ranked last in the league.
The well-rested 5-3 Cincinnati Bengals are coming off a Week 9 bye and are probably high off their Week 8 win over the Tampa Bay Buccaneers, 37-34. What they’ll need to forget are the two losses in a row before that, both to AFC powerhouses – the Pittsburgh Steelers, 21-28 and the Kansas City Chiefs, 10-45.
The Bengals desperately need to defeat a winning team like the Saints at home if they expect the football world to continue mentioning them in the 2018 playoff conversation. But if Cincinnati fails to win against yet another playoff contender, then it will be difficult to take them seriously as a post season threat.
If the Saints win this matchup, they’ll move to 8-1 and remain at least two games ahead of the Carolina Panthers in the NFC South. But if the Bengals come out on top, they’ll be 6-3 and stay close to the 5-2-1 Pittsburgh Steelers, who currently sit atop the AFC North.
Who’s favored to win this Week 10 Saints-Bengals matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to compare the Saints and the Bengals and attempt to answer those questions and more.
The 2018 Saints offense firing on all cylinders
The Saints offense is currently ranked 7th overall after averaging 402.0 yards of total offense per game this season. Their passing attack (7th) is stronger than their rush (15th), but that didn’t seem to matter against the Rams as offensive coordinator Pete Carmichael hit them hard with both.
In that six-touchdown game, Brees threw for 346 yards and Kamara ran for 82 yards, but running back Mark Ingram only had 33 yards, plus he fumbled a critical ball as he continues to struggle after missing the first four games due to suspension.
New Orleans faces a Cincinnati defense that’s last against the pass and 26th against the run, so chances are it will be a high-scoring game for Brees and company. The Saints offensive line has kept Brees safe, only allowing 9 sacks this season, while the Bengals defense only has 21.0 total sacks (T-19th).
The 2018 Bengals offense all banged up
The biggest news for the Bengals’ offense right now is injuries. Pro-Bowl receiver A.J. Green (foot) is out for at least two games and backup tight end Tyler Kroft (foot) is out and wearing a protective boot. Currently listed as questionable are: receiver John Ross (groin), tight end C.J. Uzomah (shoulder), running back Giovani Bernard (knee) and center Billy Price (foot).
Andy Dalton is having a good season, throwing 185-for-292 for 2,102 yards, 17 touchdowns and 8 interceptions with a passer rating of 92.9. The problem is he’s having trouble finding anyone healthy to target. The hope is that with the extra bye-week rest, all the questionables become probables and Dalton can orchestrate a respectable battle against the Saints 25th ranked defense.
The Bengals offensive line has kept Dalton relatively safe, allowing only 16 sacks (ranked 24th), and they have helped convert 41.1 percent of Cincinnati’s first downs. If Price can’t play because of his foot, guard Trey Hopkins is next on the depth chart.
Saints Defense ranks 25th in the league, Bengals D ranks 32nd
The best you can say about the Saints’ defense in this matchup is that at least it ranks better than the Bengals. But not in some cases.
New Orleans has only sacked opponents’ quarterbacks 17 times this season (ranked 27th) while Cincinnati’s defense has 21 total sacks. The Saints defense only has four interceptions, while the Bengals have ten.
However, the Saints are number one against the run, allowing opponents to gain just 76.4 ground yards per game and the Bengals allow 128.4 rushing yards against them per game. And though there is only one defense worst in the league than the Saints against the pass, the good news (for them) is that that team is the Bengals.
With equally weak defenses, this game should have all the makings of an offensive shootout, except the Bengals’ best receivers, A.J. Green and Tyler Kroft, won’t be involved. Unless Tyler Boyd can step up in their place, the shootout could be all one-sided in favor of Brees’ Saints.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
New Orleans’ punter, Thomas Morstead, was a fifth-round draft pick back in 2009 and so far, he’s punted 19 times for a net average of 42.6 yards per punt, ranked 4th in the league.
Cincinnati’s punter, Kevin Huber, has been in the league and with the Bengals since 2009. So far, he’s punted 33 times for a net average of 38.4 yards per punt, tied for 26th in the league.
New Orleans’ placekicker, Wil Lutz, in his third season, is 15-for-17, his longest a 54-yarder just last week against the Vikings. He has missed one extra point attempt (27/28).
Cincinnati’s journeyman placekicker, Randy Bullock, is now playing for his fifth new team, sixth if you count his first brief stint with the Bengals in 2016. Bullock is 9-for-11, his longest a 51-yarder. He has missed one extra point attempt (26/27).
New Orleans’ punt returner, running back Alvin Kamara, is ranked 34th in the league in return average. He’s returned 6 punts for 43 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 7.2 yards per return, his longest for 15 yards.
Cincinnati’s punt returner, wide receiver Alex Erickson, is ranked 21st in the league in return average. He’s returned 8 punts for 75 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 9.4 yards per return, his longest for 17 yards.
Saints–Bengals prediction and odds
The oddsmakers have the Saints favored over the Bengals by 4.5 with an over/under of 54.0.
CBSSports.com has two final score predictions:
Pete Prisco goes with the under and has it Saints 24, Bengals 23
John Breech takes the under and predicts it Saints 30, Bengals 20