If things fall into place for the Cincinnati Bengals, they are actually in a position to get a first-round bye in the playoffs. It would take a few things to happen, but the possibility is open if the Bengals can win out. This is thus a pretty big game for the Bengals. The Steelers have had a pretty un-Steeler like season, that is safe to say. It came to an apex with head coach Mike Tomlin’s antics on the sidelines trying to get in the way of Jacoby Jones. There have also been rumors swirling that Ben Roethlisberger wants out of Pittsburgh. It wouldn’t surprise me if it is true, but I am just trying to point out there is plenty of finger pointing going around in this franchise. It is sad to see for a football team that has virtually had no distractions the past several years. Yeah you can throw the Roethlisberger rape acquisitions in there if you want, but it didn’t have much to do with anything on the field. This year has been all about on the field.
The Steelers are getting old, no secret there. It is getting to a point they may want to scratch. Not that they want to, but nobody can escape time and old age, and the Steelers are getting up there. Like I said the Bengals still have something to play for, barring a miracle, the Steelers will miss the playoffs in back-to-back seasons. At home with nothing to lose on primetime against a division rival, the Steelers may play spoiler Sunday night. Let’s look into it and see if we can predict if it will come to fruition.
Bengals vs. Steelers Betting Odds:
Cincinnati Bengals -3 (+105)
@Pittsburgh Steelers +3 (-125)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Bengals vs. Steelers Pick:
It looked like it should be an easy win for the Bengals, on paper anyways, it is 9-4 vs. 5-8 after all. But the Bengals have been fairly dreadful on the road this season, particularly Andy Dalton. They did beat the Chargers on the road this season, which marks the only half-way impressive win I’ll give them on the road. San Diego doesn’t really have much of a home-field advantage, though. Most fans at a Charger game are in fact wearing colors from the opposite team. Tonight may be a little trickier, even though the Steelers have had a down year, their fans will still bring it Sunday night. It is Pittsburgh in primetime, ‘nuff said. The weather system that has ravaged most of the east coast should be out of there by game-time, which I am being affected by at the moment, should be out of there by Sunday night. The Bengals have a solid mix of offense and defense, their defense is quite underrated in fact. The defense is allowing only 19 points per game and giving up 321 yards. Conversely, the offense has been good, as they are 10th in the league in yards per game. They don’t do anything exceptionally well, but are good both offensively and defensively. I don’t think it is enough to carry them to a Super Bowl, but I think they can surprise some people if they put it all together.
The Steelers don’t have the defense they once had, that is easy to see. It must be difficult watching as a Steelers’ fan, as they are just late getting to spots. The age is beginning to show no doubt, there were glimpses of it last year, and it has come full circle in 2013. They aren’t making plays that they used to make, for instance, Troy Polamalu couldn’t wrap up last week, which resulted in an easy touchdown for the Miami Dolphins. The Steelers ultimately threw the game away on that play and lost 34-28. Losing close games has been the operative word for the Steelers football team. Those are the kind of games they used to win, but miss one play here and another there, and it adds up to a L at the end of the game. Roethlisberger hasn’t been the issue for the Steelers, and given their offensive line, the passing game has done quite well. They are 9th in the NFL in passing yards per game. There isn’t much for Big Ben to work with receiving wise, other than Antonio Brown, it is pretty scarce. Emanuel Sanders hasn’t emerged like the Steelers have wanted after signing him in the offseason. The Steelers have long leaned on a reliable running game, but this season has been a mess, as they are 31st in the league in rushing.
Meanwhile, the defense has been OKAY. Okay isn’t good enough for the Steelers, though. They are 9th in yards allowed in the passing game and 24th in rushing. So the rushing defense isn’t nearly as stout as we have come to know from Pittsburgh. For the past ten seasons they have been in the top-5 in both categories, but again, age is the problem. The defense really hasn’t been consistent, one game they’ll bring it and hold a team to 10-14 points, and then allow 25+. I like the Steelers’ defense to come to play tonight in primetime, giving Steelers’ fans something to cheer about going forward. They tend to show up on primetime, as they did against the Ravens, but came up just short. I like them to hang with the Bengals and possibly win it straight up at home. Bovada is always generous to underdogs and this game is no different, as we get 3 points with the Steelers. Yes, the juice is there on the 3, but I think 3 is an important number in this game. I’ll take the points in a series that typically plays close between the Bengals and Steelers, and for the mere fact that the Bengals have yet to dominate on the road. They should slip-up against a division rival on the road on SNF.
PICK: Steelers +3(-125)