CINCINNATI BENGALS (8-6)
at PITTSBURGH STEELERS (7-7)
Kickoff: Sunday, 4:25 p.m. EDT
Line: Pittsburgh -3, Total: 41.5
Cincinnati tries to keep its playoff hopes alive Sunday when it visits a place it hasn't won very often, Heinz Field in Pittsburgh.
This one is pretty close to a playoff game, as these two teams battle for a wild card spot. The Steelers have absolutely owned the Bengals over the past three seasons, beating them five straight times, SU and ATS by 12.8 PPG on average. They won in Cincinnati in Week 7, 24-17, in a game that wasn’t nearly as close as the final score would indicate. The Steelers outgained Cincy 431-185, and completely shut down the Bengals by simply doubling WR A.J. Green, who finished with one catch for eight yards. Though Pittsburgh’s injury-ravaged secondary could open the door a little bit more for QB Andy Dalton, he has a 48.8% completion percentage in three career games against the Steelers.
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Cincinnati has moved to just one game back of Baltimore for the division lead after winning five of its past six contests. The Bengals crushed the Eagles 34-13 in Philadelphia last Thursday, making them 5-1 (SU and ATS) in the past six road tilts. QB Andy Dalton has not been strong in his career versus the Steelers with a paltry 410 passing yards (137 YPG), 5.0 YPA, 4 TD and 3 INT in three games against them. Although Pittsburgh has some key injuries in the secondary, this is still the NFL's top defense in terms of total yardage (274 YPG), ranking 4th against the run (93 YPG) and first in passing defense (181 YPG). Although A.J. Green couldn't get open last game, the Steelers won't have CB Ike Taylor (ankle) this time, and could also be without CBs Keenan Lewis and Cortez Allen, who are both questionable with hip injuries. Cincy will try to establish the run with RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis who has 543 rushing yards (5.1 YPC) over his past five games. Cincinnati has been a bit sloppy recently with six turnovers in the past three games and 11 sacks taken in just the past two games.
The Steelers have committed 18 turnovers during their current 1-4 SU (1-3-1 ATS) slump, some of which have been caused by their quarterbacks taking a dozen sacks during this stretch. Pittsburgh will rely on the arm of QB Ben Roethlisberger, who has been up-and-down in his career in this series, posting a 13-4 record, but throwing for a pedestrian 21 TD and 16 INT in 17 regular season starts versus the Bengals. He did throw for 285 yards in the Week 7 win though, and he will need to be on top of his game again considering how bad the Steelers have been rushing the football recently. In the past four games, they have a pathetic 71 rushing YPG on 3.5 YPC. The Bengals have a great defense, especially recently where they have 15 takeaways and 20 sacks over the past six games. For the season, Cincinnati ranks 9th in rushing defense (101 YPG) and 12th in passing defense.