There is no love lost between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. After the Steelers took the AFC North crown in 2014, the Bengals were the winners of the division in 2015. The two teams split their regular season series, but the Bengals did plenty of damage to the Steelers as they ended Le'Veon Bell's season after their Week 8 game.
The Bengals suffered a loss of their own after their Week 14 game against the Steelers when Andy Dalton broke his thumb trying to tackle Stephon Tuitt after throwing an interception. Add in the verbal assault these two teams have had directed at one another in the media since and you have plenty of intrigue in an already intense atmosphere.
The AFC Wild Card game at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, OH should be electric, and if that wasn't enough, the weather forecast is predicting rain showers throughout the game. Nothing like Mother Nature poking her head in and reminding everyone she can play a role in the outcome of the game.
As for the players deployed to end their opponents' season, the Steelers have a high powered offense led by Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Heath Miller, but a defense which is known to severely bend and only break on occasion. The Steelers will be without DeAngelo Williams in this game after he suffered a right ankle injury in the team's Week 17 win against the Cleveland Browns.
The Cincinnati Bengals will turn to AJ McCarron to end their playoff drought, but it won't just be the Alabama product getting the job done. A.J. Green, Tyler Eifert and Jeremy Hill look to play their role in the game, and to keep the high-powered Steelers offense off the field. The Cincinnati defense is stout, and points come at a premium on the unit manned by Geno Atkins, Michael Johnson, Carlos Dunlap and Adam Jones.
So who will win this AFC North battle? The Pittsburgh Steelers, claiming their first playoff win in 5 years, or the Bengals who are looking to win their first postseason game since Boomer Esiason was the signal caller? Enter your prediction in the Crowd's Line tool below. If you want to use the tool to its full capabilities, log in and make your prediction and it will track how accurate you are in your prognostication skills. As always, BTSC's predictions will be compared with Cincy Jungle's (SB Nation's Bengals website), and it is time to prove the Steelers' fan base is the more knowledgeable and realistic.
As for my prediction, as much as I would love this to be a high-scoring affair -- as that would favor the Steelers -- I see it being more of a low scoring game with a handful of plays turning the tide in the game. Look for a late Chris Boswell field goal to put the game on ice after Roethlisberger moves the team into field goal range thanks to Antonio Brown and Heath Miller.
Jeff Hartman's Prediction (BTSC Editor):
Steelers - 24
Bengals - 21