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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Minnesota Vikings Point Spread - Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (5-8 SU, 7-6 ATS) vs. Minnesota Vikings (10-3 SU, 9-4 ATS)
Week 15 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, December 17, 2017 at 1PM EST
Where: U.S. Bank Stadium, Minneapolis, Minnesota
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CIN +11/MIN -11
Over/Under Total: 42

The Cincinnati Bengals come to Minneapolis for a week 15 matchup with the Minnesota Vikings. Neither team had a good time of it last week. The Vikings lost a battle with the Carolina Panthers, 31-24, snapping an eight-game winning streak. They look to get back on the winning-track at home this week. Minnesota head coach Mike Zimmer will host the team where he was a defensive coordinator, with the Bengals coming into town. It's been a long season for Cincy this season, one that appeared to hit a new layer of bedrock on Sunday as they were gashed at home 33-7 by the league's last-ranked offense in a bad loss to the Chicago Bears.

Teams often look very different from week-to-week, but it's hard to not ponder heavily on how bad the Bengals looked on Sunday. To lose is one thing and this is not a good Bengals team, a former perennial contender that seems to have lost all its mojo. But that was disgraceful. They get astoundingly little out of an offense that should be a lot better. And while they sometimes flash the defensive form that helped make them a contender for so many years, the inconsistency on that side of the ball is a big part of the reason they are in the dumps. The win for Chicago on Sunday was their most lopsided win in five seasons. They gave up the first 100-yard game to a Chicago receiver this season, while the loss was the worst home-loss for the Bengals in nearly a decade. Ouch.

The Cincinnati offense managed just 234 yards on Sunday and after a first-quarter TD, they didn't hit the scoreboard for the duration of the game. Andy Dalton was only 14-for-29 and threw a pick, while not getting in the end zone. The injuries haven't helped, nor did entering this season with a depreciated offensive line. But there are a lot of offenses doing a lot more with less. Giovani Bernard, getting more carries with Joe Mixon missing time, had 62 yards rushing and 68 yards receiving. The problem is a run-game that on paper should be getting better has found a way to get worse. AJ Green is still a valuable weapon aerially, but they don't get a lot out of what should be a decent ball-catching crew. It's just a very humdrum group and they should be at least average instead of ranking toward the bottom in every relevant offensive category.

Granted, things didn't set up well for the Bengals' defense this past week. With guys hurt like Vontaze Burfict, Pacman Jones, Nick Vigil, Shawn Williams, Dre Kirkpatrick, and others, they are missing a lot of their firepower. Still, to allow an impotent Chicago offense to thrive was a bad setback for this side of the ball. Again, when the stars aligned right, there have been times they looked good this season. But they often perform like they did on Sunday. A Cincinnati team without a solid-playing defense is really dead in the water. Going into Minnesota to face an irritated Vikes' squad doesn't figure to be the right medicine.

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Losing to a good team like the Panthers after winning eight in a row is not a bad sign in itself. But you can bet the Vikings will be doing everything in their power to avoid relinquishing all the good momentum they have worked so hard to create. They face a very winnable situation in this spot and it would have probably been better for the Bengals if the Vikings just won last week. Against Carolina, they gave it a good shot, rallying from being 11 points down and tying the game with a FG and a 52-yard TD from Case Keenum to Adam Thielen. But the Panthers' offense made some big plays late to seal the win. Even with the loss, the Vikings have really been amazing this season, overcoming crippling injuries on offense, while relying on a defense that might not have been so great last week, but has been one of the best groups in the NFL overt the season.

On Sunday, the Minnesota offense was disrupted by a Carolina defense that had a good game and made a lot of good things happen. Case Keenum made some nice plays and had 280 yards and two touchdowns, but he turned the ball over three times, including two picks. The normal one-two punch of Latavius Murray and Javorius Allen in the backfield didn't really manifest. Keenum hit Thielen and TE Kyle Rudolph for touchdowns, as Stefon Diggs continues working his way back into the offense. But mistakes and a good opponent saw the Vikings offense not really deliver on Sunday. But even in the midst of a not-so-great day, they still gave the Panthers a big sweat and should be better this week, especially if the Bengals' defense plays like they did last week and doesn't get some manpower back from injury.

Minnesota's defense was also not at its best on Sunday. One of the league's best rushing defenses allowed three touchdowns to Jonathan Stewart and over 200 yards on the ground. The secondary played well, as they have been in recent weeks. Linval Joseph and Everson Griffen both had sacks, while Andrew Sendejo picked off Cam Newton and returned the ball 34 yards. One should expect a lot better this week at home against this offense. They've been one of the better defenses in the league this season and should be eager to flex that form at home this week to get the bitter taste out of their mouths.

I anticipate a Minnesota win in this game. That's not much of a stand to take on a prohibitive favorite. We just need to be careful with how we cast the teams here. Sure, Minnesota is a contender that should be irked and ready to get back on the right track this week. And they're facing a team that hit a new low last week and might be secretly waiting for the finish line to the season to appear. It's never as easy as that. Still, I see Minnesota getting it done on Sunday with room to spare.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Minnesota Vikings minus 11 points. Bet the Bengals vs. Vikings game for FREE by taking advantage of a massive 100% sign-up bonus on your first deposit of $100 to $500 at GTBets!

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