Vikings vs. Bengals Expert Pick – December 16, 2023
VIKINGS VS. BENGALS EXPERT PICK – DECEMBER 16 2023 – The Minnesota Vikings visit the Cincinnati Bengals in a matchup of two 7-6 teams trying to stay alive for the playoffs.
Both teams are relying on backup quarterbacks to make a final push towards the postseason.
The Bengals are one of six teams with the same record, while the Vikings are one game up on the rest of the NFC Wild Card Contenders. This is close to a must-win game for both teams.
“Yeah, this is a big one that we really need,” said Bengals coach Zac Taylor. I’m sure that (the Vikings) feel the exact same way. It’s just really the way the league is set up this year. It’s interesting for the fans, it keeps everybody involved, and everyone’s got a lot to play for. And I think ultimately, we’re in a position – I think Minnesota is in a position- to where you keep controlling what you can control, and good things will happen.”
(7-6 SU, 6-6-1 ATS)
(7-6 SU, 7-4-2 ATS)
When: Sunday, December 16, 2023 at 1:00 PM ET
Where: Paycor Stadium
When quarterback Joe Burrow was lost for the season, all hope for another Bengals playoff run was all but gone.
A few weeks later they are firmly in the mix for the postseason because backup QB Jake Browning has been exceptional in wins over the Jaguars and Colts the last two weeks.
While Browning has picked right up where Burrow left off, it’s the defense that has played better the last couple weeks. Even though they are statistically among the worst in the league, they have held their last two opponents to under a three-yard rushing average.
Last week against the Colts they racked up three sacks with defensive end Trey Hendrickson having two of them.
The Vikings also have a backup quarterback with Nick Mullens set to be the fourth different starter this year. Mullens came in last week for the ineffective Josh Dobbs and led them to a 3-0 victory.
The Vikings welcomed back receiver Justin Jefferson last week from a hamstring injury, only to see him sidelined early with a chest injury. He is expected to play again this week and will look to spark the offense.
“I felt like a kid again, just being out there on that field,” Jefferson said. “I wasn’t going to be on that field without being 100%, so my hamstring was definitely 100 and feeling very, very good.”
One concern for the Vikings is their pass protection as they lost right tackle Brian O’Neill to a sprained ankle during last week’s game. After allowing five sacks last week they must improve in this area to allow Jefferson and the offense to be effective.
This is a difficult matchup to predict as both teams are in similar positions with the backup quarterback and backs against the wall. With the spread moving from -5.5 to -3.0 for the Bengals it seems Vegas is begging for the public to take the Bengals.
Which is why the pick is the Vikings in a low scoring affair 20-10. I am going to add a player prop as Ja’Marr Chase will go over 65.5 yards (-125).
Ja’Marr Chase over 65.5 -125