The Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals have been on very separate paths throughout this 2017 regular season. The Bengals got off to a horrible start, but have since rebounded giving them new life in the AFC Playoff Picture. On the other hand, the Steelers have run away with the AFC North lead, and possess a ridiculous lead over the second place team, Baltimore Ravens.
Some like to put a lot of emphasis on intangible things when picking a game. There are plenty of those in this upcoming matchup.
For the Bengals to have a chance at claiming a Wild Card spot in the AFC Playoffs, they cannot afford to lose more than a game, at best. In other words, they very well could be playing for their season on Monday Night Football. But while many think the Steelers are overlooking the Bengals, and the Ravens next week, this thought process couldn’t be further from the truth. If the Steelers beat the Bengals on Monday night, and beat the Ravens on Sunday night in Week 14, they would clinch the AFC North, and a playoff spot.
Talk about motivation for both teams.
Intangibles aside, this is a game the Steelers should win, but questions surrounding the health of Antonio Brown and a banged up secondary have many black-and-gold lunatics plenty nervous, but should they be?
The Bengals’ offense ranks 25th in points per game, 26th in passing yards per game, and 32nd in rushing yards per game. On the flip side, the defense ranks 10th in points allowed per game, 5th in passing yards allowed per game, and 29th in rushing yards allowed per game.
In other words, the Bengals do have their strengths, mainly the passing defense, but other than that they are a below-the-line football team. Yes, they have won two games in-a-row, but are wins over the winless Browns and the hapless Broncos really calling cards for success?
This is a rivalry if there ever is one in the NFL, and I think the Bengals will be pulling out all the stops to win the game. Be ready for double reverses, flea flickers, fake punts, onside kicks...basically everything, and the kitchen sink, to try and win this game. But if the Steelers are prepared, as they should be, this pick is a no-brainer.
Pittsburgh has had its struggles on the road this season, and in the past, but have played extremely well at Paul Brown Stadium in the Ben Roethlisberger era. For this reason, and many others, I like Pittsburgh to win and advance their record to 10-2 on the season, keeping pace with the New England Patriots in the AFC Playoff Picture.
Expect a heavy dose of Roosevelt Nix, to negate Vontaze Burfict, and Le’Veon Bell to get the offense in the groove, and the Steelers’ 2nd ranked defense in regards to sacks, to get after an offensive line which ranks 15th in sacks allowed. Stop Joe Mixon, force the ball into Andy Dalton’s hands and you have yourself a ‘W’ on Monday Night Football.
Steelers - 29
Bengals - 17