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Surging Bengals visit slumping Steelers on Sunday
By: Zach Cohen - StatFox
Published: 12/15/2013  at  5:36:00 AM
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CINCINNATI BENGALS (9-4)
at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (5-8)

Kickoff: Sunday, 8:30 p.m. ET
Line: Cincinnati -3, Total: 41

The Bengals look for their 10th win of the season when they visit the division rival Steelers on Sunday night.

Cincinnati rolled past the Colts 42-28 in Week 14 to win their third straight game, while Pittsburgh came up short at home against the Dolphins, losing 34-28 for its second straight defeat. When these teams met earlier in the year in Week 2, the Bengals won-and-covered 20-10 at home, marking their second straight win in the series. But the Steelers still hold a 10-4 advantage (SU and ATS) in the past 14 games in this series. Both teams have favorable betting trends here, as Cincinnati is 10-2 ATS (83%) after a win double-digit win over the past three seasons, and Pittsburgh is 13-4 ATS (77%) in home games after covering the spread in four out of their past five games since 1992. Points have been hard to come by in this series with the past four meetings all finishing Under the total. The Bengals are pretty quiet on the injury front with only CB Terence Newman (knee) out for this game. The Steelers are much more concerned about injuries with WR Jerricho Cotchery (shoulder) and DEs Ziggy Hood (ankle) and Brett Keisel (foot) all listed as questionable for Sunday night.

Can the Steelers put an end to the Bengals' win streak on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. The experts continue to flourish, combining for a 56% ATS record (53-41-6) over the past seven weeks. StatFox Brian has a 65% ATS (22-12-2) mark in Best Bets since Week 7, and is 56% ATS (30-24-4) this season. StatFox Scott is 9-5 ATS in the past three weeks of Best Bets, and is 54% ATS (27-23-2) this season, including 62% ATS (24-15-1) in Best Bets since Week 4. StatFox Gary has six perfect weeks in Best Bets since Week 4, and is 5-2 ATS in the past three weeks.

Cincinnati's offense has been rolling with 33.3 PPG during its three-game win streak, while the defense has been stellar all season. Cincinnati allows only 222.4 yards per game through the air (T-7th in NFL) and 98.2 yards per game on the ground (5th in league). WR A.J. Green (1,175 rec. yards, 8 TD) has caught touchdowns in three of the past four games, but he has struggled against Pittsburgh in the past (57.6 receiving YPG in five meetings) and will need to get going in this one. He was held to just 41 yards on six catches in the first meeting between these teams. QB Andy Dalton (3,419 pass yards, 7.3 YPA, 25 TD, 16 INT) threw for 280 yards and one touchdown in the first game versus Pittsburgh, and has been playing well recently with nine touchdown passes in the past four weeks, including 3 TD tosses last week. RBs Giovani Bernard (620 rush yards, 4.7 YPC, 4 TD) and BenJarvus Green-Ellis (662 rush yards, 3.4 YPC, 6 TD) continue to be a formidable duo for the Bengals. Last week, Bernard rushed for 99 yards on just 12 carries (8.3 YPC) while Green-Ellis found the end zone twice.

Pittsburgh was very much alive in the playoff race a few weeks ago, but now those hopes have faded. Last week against Miami, it lost 34-28 after Antonio Brown stepped out of bounds on what would have been a game-winning touchdown on a play full of laterals as time expired. Pittsburgh has been strong defending the pass this season, allowing just 222.4 yards per game through the air (T-7th in NFL). They have, however, struggled against the run where they are surrendering 120.2 yards per game on the ground (24th in NFL). Over the past four weeks, QB Ben Roethlisberger (3,724 pass yards, 7.4 YPA, 24 TD, 10 INT) has been throwing the ball extremely well in the past four games with 1,190 passing yards (7.4 YPA, 298 YPG) with 11 touchdowns and no interceptions. This has helped compensate for a horrible ground game that has only 77.4 rushing YPG (31st in NFL) on 3.4 YPC (30th in league). Top RB Le'Veon Bell (589 rush yards, 3.4 YPC, 5 TD), was unable to play against Cincinnati in Week 2 as he watched his teammates rush for a paltry 44 yards on 16 carries. The Steelers have also been able to stay in ball games with only one turnover in the past four games combined. But they just haven’t executed defensively when they’ve needed it most and they often find themselves playing catch-up.

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