A blowout of the Colts later, the Pittsburgh Steelers are turning their attention to the 1st place Cincinnati Bengals. If the Steelers want to win the AFC North, the road goes through Cincinnati. Even with a win today, the Steelers still have a lot of work to do. Last week was a must win against the Colts and they came out hitting a royal flush. This week they will need to do it again, and with the way the standings are, the Steelers 7-5 and the Bengals 10-2, this is another must win for Pittsburgh. They can get the double bonus in this game, as they win and get closer, while preventing the Bengals from breaking even. Conversely, the Bengals can just about slice the jugular of the Steelers with a win today. One thing is true, the rest of the league doesn’t want to have to play the Steelers in the postseason. I know the Bengals have the record this season and all, but if past playoff success is any indication, I’d rather be playing the Bengals than the Steelers. Realistically, I think the Steelers are going to be vying for a Wild Card. 8-4 would be real different than 7-5 right now. At 8-4 the Steelers would have been within reach, now they need to pull something special out to reach the Bengals.
Out of all the playoff ready teams, the Bengals are certainly one of the most interesting. Now with the Patriots banged up there is some intrigue there too, but I am interested in seeing how the Bengals are going to do this year in the postseason. Last season they got off to a hot start, cooled down, then completely fizzled out come the playoffs. Andy Dalton has been pretty famous for doing that. But we haven’t seen him performing at quite this level, nor have we seen the Bengals at 10-2.
With that said, I still have my reservations about the Bengals. I don’t care I they win out the rest of the way in the regular season or how they do it, they’re always going to have a postseason dark cloud hanging over their head. And for that reason, line permitting, it’s going to be difficult to back them. Dalton has nevertheless had a fine campaign, passing for 3191 yards and 25 touchdowns with 6 interceptions. The Bengals are coming off a masscacre of the Cleveland Browns, beating them up for a final score of 37-3 final. Important matchup today. I provide my final thoughts below.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds:
@ Bengals -2.5(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:
If the Steelers had a healthy unit throughout the season, they would in my opinion at the very least have a 8-4 record. With the injury to Ben Roethlisberger, the Steelers had to go with Landry Jones and even Michael Vick in some games. You put Ben in there for the duration of the season, things would be looking quite different right now. It also provides a different way of looking at the Steelers. They have a 7-5 record, but they didn’t have Roethlisberger for the full season. So, you need to look at them carefully. Statistically as well, so lets look at them lately with a healthy Roethlisberger. He said at the start of the season that they may be able to score 30 points every week. In the last four weeks they eclipsed 30 points in each game for an average of 35.75 points per game. That is the new brand of Steeler football we were expecting.
The Bengal offense has been putting up some numbers, too. Dalton has been pacing the offensive unit and has them scoring 27.8 points per game. Note that in their last three games they have averaged 33 points per game, eclipsing 30 points in all three. The Steelers have hit their offensive stride and I could see them averaging up in the high 20s for the rest of the reason. The pass defense of the Steelers can be hit though, they are 29th in the NFL allowing 275.5 yards per game through the air. There should be some points here. I like the OVER.
PICK: OVER 50 POINTS (-110)