The Steelers obliterated the Indianapolis Colts 45-10 at Heinz Field in Week 13. The win improved the Steelers overall record to 7-5, and the team is now No. 7 in the American Football Conference. Pittsburgh has the difficult task of trying to beat one of the AFC's best teams on the road this Sunday, and will look to improve to 8-5 overall.
The Bengals dismantled the Cleveland Browns 37-3 in Week 13. They've beaten their last two opponents by a combined score of 68 to 10, and look like the most complete team in the AFC heading into the big showdown with the Steelers.
Week 13 Recap
The Steelers crushed the Colts 45-10 at home in Week 13. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger continued his stellar play, throwing for 364 yards and four touchdowns in the win. Wide receivers Antonio Brown and Martavis Bryant combined for 232 yards and two touchdowns, and running back DeAngelo Williams carried the ball 26 times for 134 yards. Pittsburgh's offense has now scored 30+ points in four consecutive games.
Winning bets: Steelers to win -350, Steelers to cover -115, over 49.5 total points -110, Steelers will score over 28.5 points -115, DeAngelo Williams over 100 rushing yards EVEN odds
Losing bets: Martavis Bryant over 150 yards receiving +2500
The Steelers are as healthy as they've been all year. All of the players listed on this week's injury report are listed as probable, and all of them were full participants in Friday's practice.
(Image from Steelers.com)
The Bengals, meanwhile, are a bit banged up in the secondary. Cornerbacks Adam Jones (foot) and Dre Kirkpatrick (knee) were both listed as doubtful on Friday's injury report, and safety George Iloka (groin) is questionable.
(Image from Bengals.com)
The Steelers and Bengals last met in Week 8 at Heinz Field. Cincinnati won the game 16-10. Roethlisberger, returning from a knee injury suffered against the St. Louis Rams in Week 3, threw three interceptions in the loss. Running back Le'Veon Bell was carted off the field in the second quarter after sustaining a season-ending MCL tear.
Steelers offense: No. 6 (25.9 PPG) vs. Bengals defense: No. 1 (16.3 PPG)
Steelers defense: No. 7 (20.0 PPG) vs. Bengals offense: No. 4 (27.8 PPG)
My season record straight up: 8-3
Steelers +115 ($10.00 wins $11.50)
Bengals -135 ($10.00 wins $7.41)
(Image from CBSSports.com)
At No. 7, the Steelers are currently on the outside looking in. A win over the Bengals could move them into the No. 6 spot if the Jets lose to the Tennessee Titans, or if the Chiefs lose to the San Diego Chargers. Pittsburgh could find itself in the No. 5 spot with a win, if both the Jets AND the Chiefs fall tomorrow.
The Bengals, on the other hand, are competing with the Denver Broncos (10-2) and New England Patriots (10-2) for a first round bye. A win over the Steelers would go a long way toward securing a top-two seed for Cincinnati.
I like the Steelers in this game for a few reasons.
1. They're a desperate team and will be treating tomorrow's divisional battle with the Bengals as a playoff game. Pittsburgh will likely need to run the table to avoid a tie-breaking scenario.
2. History is on the Steelers side. Pittsburgh is 3-1 straight up in its last four games, 4-1 straight up in its last five games as road underdogs in December, and 8-3 straight up in its last eleven games against Cincinnati.
3. The Steelers will be looking to avenge the Week 8 loss in which Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict inflicted a season-ending injury on Le'Veon Bell, and proceeded to celebrate as the All-Pro running back writhed in pain near the sideline.
4. The Steelers offense is on fire. Over the last four games, Pittsburgh is averaging 38.0 points. Roethlisberger and company tied an NFL record by gaining at least 450 yards from scrimmage in four straight games after putting up 522 yards of offense against the Colts last week.
The Play: Steelers +115
My season record against the spread: 6-3-2
Steelers +3 ( -120) ($10.00 wins $8.33)
Bengals -3 (even) ($10.00 wins $10.00)
The Bengals sustained injuries to key players in their secondary at a very inopportune time. Safety Reggie Nelson leads the NFL with seven interceptions, but without cornerbacks Adam Jones and Dre Kirkpatrick, it will be difficult for Cincinnati's defense to replicate its Cover-2 deep scheme from Week 8.
Nobody has been able to stop the Steelers offense with a "healthy" Roethlisberger under center. I anticipate the Bengals having an extremely difficult time trying to contain Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton. Pittsburgh's ability to stretch the field and make big plays will be the difference in the game.
The Steelers are 9-2 against the spread in their last eleven games against the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
The Play: Steelers +3
Here's what Scott Cooley at BookMaker Sportsbook thinks about the Steelers-Bengals matchup, and the other two Week 14 AFC North games:
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals (-3, 49.5)
We opened the home team as 3-point chalk Monday morning. We think this is a perfect line to attract action and so far the numbers have proven just that. The public is more likely to side with Pittsburgh given its namesake and star power. But we have sharp clients that haven't relented from taking the Bengals this season, and they've been rewarded handsomely as Cincinnati has covered most of their games.
The real story here is the total. We've seen a two-point spike already after opening at 47, and it will continue to climb so if you like the over, grab it now. Bettors aren't expecting an old-fashioned AFC North defensive battle, they're hoping for a shootout. If the Bengals are too beat up in the secondary, Big Ben and his weapons at wideout could really take advantage.
San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns (-2, 41)
We anticipated Manziel starting this week even before the team officially announced his return to the role so that was factored into the line. He's definitely an upgrade, but just a minor upgrade from Austin Davis.
We opened the spread at a pick ‘em Sunday night, quickly took money on the home squad and moved to Cleveland -1. The public bettors have followed the steam, and the Johnny Football hype to an extent, throughout the week so we've adjusted to -1.5 and currently -2. If this reaches the key number I expect some wiseguys to get on San Francisco.
Seattle Seahawks at Baltimore Ravens (OFF)
We've waited through Wednesday to hang a line because of Schaub's playing status. Whether it's him or Jimmy Clausen, it will be difficult to attract Ravens' money in this matchup. Joe Public bettor will be chomping at the bit to back Seattle given the Seahawks' hot streak and the pitiful Baltimore season.
Over 51.0 points (-105) ($10.00 wins $9.52)
Under 51.0 points (-115) ($10.00 wins $8.70)
The Week 8 game between the Steelers and Bengals was a defensive slug fest, as the teams combined for just 26 points. Both offenses are loaded with explosive playmakers, but the familiarity factor that comes with divisional opponents could result in a similar scoreline to the one we saw in early November.
It's easy to forget that this matchup will feature the No. 1 and No. 7 ranked scoring defenses in the NFL. The total has gone under in seven of Pittsburgh's last ten games, and it's gone under in five of Cincinnati's last six games as well.
The Play: under 51.0 points -115
Steelers will score over 24.0 points -115 ($10.00 wins $8.70)
Andy Dalton over 1.5 interceptions thrown +250 ($10.00 wins $25.00)
The Long Shot
Markus Wheaton to score a TD and Steelers win Game +800 ($10.00 wins $80.00)
Steelers 27, Bengals 20