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Cincinnati Bengals can maul underprepared Colts

Indianapolis QB Andrew Luck missed the whole of last season

Indianapolis should welcome back Andrew Luck
1 of 1

Best bet
Cincinnati to beat Indianapolis
Indianapolis need to make rapid progress this season after a 4-12 campaign last year and they are firmly putting their faith in returning quarterback Andrew Luck.

He missed the whole of last season with a shoulder injury and despite his undoubted ability it would be a surprise if he hit the ground running in their home opener against Cincinnati.

It is interesting to see the Bengals handed a 2.5-point start at Lucas Oil Stadium, because some of the Colts' statistics last season make gloomy reading.

A poor offensive line did not help Luck's replacements a great deal as they had the second-worst attack in the league and they were pretty miserable on the other side of the ball too. They were ranked 30th overall, 28th against the pass and 26th against the run.

It seems that the problems are perhaps more deeply rooted than some suggest and Cincinnati can take advantage.

The Bengals had all sorts of offensive problems last season, but they were still able to claim seven wins and we could see more from running back Joe Mixon this season.

Either way, this is the sort of game they will be looking to win if they are to be genuine challenges to Pittsburgh and Baltimore in the AFC North.

Best handicap bet
Houston +6.5
The Colts' AFC South rivals Houston also claimed just four wins last year, but there is much more scope for them to improve that record significantly.

Quarterback DeShaun Watson was a revelation last season before he was injured and star defensive end JJ Watt also spent most of the campaign on the treatment table.

They have an excellent playmaker in wide receiver DeAndre Hopkins and they are capable of making New England fight all the way for an opening success.

Patriots quarterback Tom Brady is still a star turn, but there have been a few changes at Foxborough and their offensive line is weaker following the departure of tackle Nate Solder.

It may be that last year's Super Bowl runners-up get off to a stuttering start.

Best points bet
Baltimore to score over 23.5 points
The pressure is on Ravens quarterback Joe Flacco to shine this seasons after Baltimore drafted former Heisman Trophy winner Lamar Jackson, but he should be able to rise to the occasion at home to the Bills.

Flacco has had his receiving options boosted by the signings of Michael Crabtree and John Brown and with their customarily strong defence, they could prove a real force this season and improve on their 9-7 record from last term.

The Bills could be in for a difficult season and have put their faith in Nathan Peterman at quarterback rather than throwing rookie Josh Allen to the wolves. AJ McCarron was set to be the starter but was injured in pre-season.

However, Peterman's first start last season against the Los Angeles Chargers saw him throw five interceptions in the first half, so there's a chance the Ravens could gain some decent field position from turnovers.

Best player bet
J Reed to score a touchdown
Alex Smith takes over from Kirk Cousins as Washington quarterback this season and that should be good news for tight end Jordan Reed.

Injuries curtailed Reed's contribution last season but the Redskins best receiver is raring to go and it looks likely that he will link up well with his new team-mate.

Smith forged a good partnership with tight end Travis Kelce when the pair played at Kansas City and now he is alongside a player of a similar frame and equal ability, it would be a surprise if Reed wasn't extensively utilised.

Staking plan
Cincinnati
2pts 6-5 Betfred, Betway, Sky Bet
Houston +6
2pts 10-11 general
Baltimore to score over 23.5 points
2pts 19-20 Betway
J Reed to score a touchdown
1pt 2-1 bet365, Betfair, Sky Bet


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It seems that the problems are perhaps more deeply rooted than some suggest and Cincinnati can take advantage
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