Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers meet in Cincinnati in a crucial AFC North matchup in Sunday NFL action. The Steelers are -3 point favorites over the Bengals with an over/under point total set at 41.5.
The Cincinnati Bengals have been one of the biggest surprise teams in the first half of the NFL season and Marvin Lewis’ team is currently tied for first place in the division with the Baltimore Ravens. Rookie QB Andy Dalton has played well enough becoming an instant team leader and he has completed 61.5 percent of his passes for 1,696 yards with 12 touchdowns and seven interceptions. Cedric Benson is averaging just 3.9 yards per carry and he has two touchdowns and Bernard Scott is averaging just 3.2 yards per carry in relief. Rookie A.J. Green has been all that was advertised and he has 40 catches and five touchdowns and Jerome Simpson and Andre Caldwell each have 26 catches and two touchdowns. The Cincinnati defense has been outstanding with 20 sacks, 12 fumble recoveries, and three interceptions and the Bengals are a plus five in turnover differential. It’s been a true team effort on defense as Reggie Nelson leads in tackles with 50, Thomas Howard has 4, and the Bengals get Rey Maualuga and Adam “Pacman” Jones back as they have both missed games with injuries. Along with all of the returning starters Cincinnati should benefit from a raucous home crowd who are always up for Pittsburgh week.
The Pittsburgh Steelers are coming off of a tough loss on Sunday Night as they blew a late lead against Baltimore but Mike Tomlin’s team has little time to reflect as going on the road against a two loss Bengal team appears to be another tough assignment. QB Ben Roethlisberger has completed 63.2 percent of his passes this season for 2,632 yards with 15 touchdowns and eight interceptions but the heat has been on as he has been sacked 26 times. Rashard Mendenhall just doesn’t look the same in the running game as he’s averaging 3.9 yards per carry as is Isaac Redman. Mike Wallace is the clear number one receiver for the Steelers with 47 catches and six touchdowns, Antonio Brown has 39 catches, and Heath Miller has 35 while Hines Ward is questionable for this one with a concussion. The Pittsburgh defense has 23 sacks, six fumble recoveries, and just two interceptions and they are minus 11 in turnover differential. Ryan Clark has 57 tackles, Troy Polamalu has 56, and LaMarr Woodley has nine sacks. While the Steelers are known for defense their pass coverage isn’t getting it done and there have been few teams in NFL history that have been successful with a negative turnover differential.
Cincinnati is 4-0 against the spread in their last four against a team with a winning record, 10-1 against the spread in their last 11 games overall, and 8-2 against the spread in their last 10 games as a home underdog. Pittsburgh is 6-0 against the spread following a straight up loss, 6-2 against the spread in their last eight games against the AFC North, and 1-4 against the spread in their last five road games. Pittsburgh is 8-1-1 against the spread in their last 10 games in Cincinnati.
This is a classic example of how public perception can skew a line as the Bengals are just the better team this year, plain and simple. Pittsburgh’s inability to protect their QB plays right into Cincinnati’s hands and look for the Bengals to win this one outright, the points are just a bonus.
Cincinnati Bengals -3 Pittsburgh Steelers