The nightcap on the first day of the NFL postseason features the Pittsburgh Steelers travelling to Cincinnati to face divisional foe, the Bengals. The Steelers and Bengals have churned out some pretty good games over the year, and no other will be bigger than this meeting today in the Wild Card round. There has already been some trash talking. From AJ McCarron? No, but that would be kind of funny. Instead a local Cincinnati radio station decided to get in on the fun and warn girls to look out for Ben Roethlisberger sexually assaulting them this weekend. It was in light humor, but jeez, give it a rest, how long ago did that alleged incident happen? Anyway, that is a story for a different time. We are trying to make some coin off this football game. Tonight we get the veteran, Ben Roethlisberger, against the first year starter, AJ McCarron. All McCarron did is win at Alabama and he is getting a stage at the professional level now to showcase what he is capable of.
I was really excited to see if Andy Dalton was going to be able to finally win a playoff game, but that is going to have to wait. Dalton was having his best season in the NFL and it came to a screeching halt with the injury. It’s too bad, because I was certainly looking forward to seeing if Dalton was going to choke again or get a huge money off his back. What could happen here is that McCarron comes right in and wins a playoff game in his first attempt. This is a big job interview for McCarron. This game is not simply about the playoff win for him, there is going to be money on the line in this game for him.
If McCarron shows up there will be teams knocking on the Bengals’ door for him. The Bengals signed Dalton to a big contract already and he had a nice season before exiting with the injury. He won’t be going anywhere. However, teams that are searching for a starting quarterback will take a long look at McCarron. A big payday could be there for him down the road if he plays his cards right in the postseason. What was looking like was going to be interesting postseason for Andy Dalton, has quickly turned into an interesting one for the incumbent. McCarron’s shot is right here, we’ll see how he handles it against the Steelers.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals NFL Wild Card Round Betting Odds:
vs. Bengals +3(-110)
Odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:
It is interesting that both home teams today are underdogs. In fact, if we take a look at tomorrow, there are more home underdogs. The Vikings are dogs to the Seahawks, and depending where you get the line, the Packers are dogs to the Washington Redskins. Did you ever think that would happen with Aaron Rodgers up against Kirk Cousins? The Redskins got out of the NFC East and as a reward they get to host a home playoff game. While the Redskins did not deserve that spot at home, the Bengals have earned their home playoff game this season. There is no mistaking that. The Bengals finished with a 12-4 record, but are being taken lightly by the public because of the no Andy Dalton angle. However, given his track record in the playoffs, could it be a blessing in disguise? McCarron has played well, entering the postseason with a quarterback rating of 97.1. He’s thrown 6 touchdowns with just 2 interceptions in seven games. The offense is averaging 26.2 points per game this season.
The Steelers are coming in with some issues on the offense. Do you know who the leading rusher is on the Steelers active roster for this game? Michael Vick with 99 yards rushing. Le’Veon Bell has been long gone and DeAngelo Williams just recently injured his foot, he will be out for this one. That is a lot of production the Steelers will be without in this matchup. Roethlisberger is going to truly need to carry the Steelers here, he has before.
Fitzgerald Toussaint is expected to get the start for the Steelers, a 2nd year player out of Michigan. He enters with 42 yards rushing on 18 carries this season. I’m a Michigan fan and I was never really impressed by him. I love catching points with the Bengals at home. McCarron has played in some big spots at Alabama in college, I don’t see him crumbling to the pressure. He may be the guy that ends up helping Marvin Lewis finally get a playoff win in Cincinnati.
PICK: BENGALS +3 (-110)