The Pittsburgh Steelers (4-3) will host the undefeated Cincinnati Bengals (6-0) in a marquee AFC North matchup in Week 8. The Steelers are a 1.5-point home favorites, and are set to welcome quarterback Ben Roethlisberger back to the starting lineup.
The Steelers suffered a 23-13 loss at the Kansas City Chiefs in Week 7, and look to get back on track against a Bengals team coming off a bye. This game has big implications for the AFC North standings, and the AFC playoff picture in general. If Pittsburgh loses, it will fall three games behind Cincinnati with eight games remaining in the regular season. A win, however, would move the Steelers to within two games of the Bengals, and keep the team firmly in the AFC playoff picture.
Week 7 Recap
The Steelers were three-point underdogs at Kansas City in Week 7, with third-string quarterback Landry Jones making his first career start. Jones threw two interceptions and lost a fumble as Pittsburgh fell 23-13, failing to cover the spread for the first time all season.
Losing bets: Steelers to win +120, Steelers to cover -115, first scoring play Steelers TD run +850
Winning bets: Under 43.5 total points, 36-42 total points scored +350
The big question for the Steelers heading into the Week 8 matchup with the Bengals is the health of Roethlisberger. Pittsburgh is 2-4 in games in which Roethlisberger returns after missing multiple weeks. If Big Ben looks anything like he did prior to the injury, the Steelers should be able to keep pace with Cincinnati's potent offense.
The game pits the Steelers seventh-ranked defense (18.7 PPG) against the Bengals third-ranked scoring offense (30.3 PPG). Pittsburgh enters the matchup ranked No. 10 in the SB Nation NFL Power Rankings and No. 9 in Football Outsiders DVOA. The Bengals, meanwhile, rank No. 2 in the SB Nation NFL Power Rankings, and are No. 4 in DVOA.
My season record straight up: 3-3
Steelers -120 ($10.00 wins $8.33)
Bengals even odds ($10.00 wins $10.00)
The Steelers have had the Bengals number in recent years, winning both meetings last season. But Cincinnati is off to a blazing start in 2015, with quarterback Andy Dalton playing the best football of his career.
I like the Bengals to win for a few reasons. First, the team will be well rested coming off a bye week. Second, the Steelers will more than likely be without defensive end Stephon Tuitt, and lack depth along the defensive front. Third, Roethlisberger will not be 100 percent healthy, and will wear a knee brace, which could limit his mobility in the pocket.
The play: Bengals even odds
My season record against the spread: 3-1-2
Steelers -1.5 ($10.00 wins $9.52)
Bengals +1.5 ($10.00 wins $8.70)
The Steelers opened as three-point underdogs, but sharp money moved the line drastically over the last few days. Both teams have been excellent against the spread in 2015. Pittsburgh is 4-1-2 against the spread, while Cincinnati is 5-0-1.
I like the Bengals to cover and win the game out right. The Steelers bend-don't-break defense has been stingy in recent weeks, but it's going to be very tough to contain Cincinnati's offensive arsenal which includes the likes of AJ Green, Tyler Eifert, Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard.
Those taking the Steelers, however, will feel confident knowing the team is 7-1-1 against the spread in its last nine games following a loss.
The play: Bengals +1.5
Here's what Scott Cooley at BookMaker Sportsbook thinks about each of the AFC North games this week:
Bengals at Steelers (+1.5, 48.5)
We opened this game Tuesday around noon once Roethlisberger's status was confirmed. There were some conflicting numbers among our oddsmaking team and we settled with Steelers +3, which immediately got rocked by sharp money. Within an hour we'd adjusted to Steelers +1.5. My guess is this line is a pick 'em by the time Sunday rolls around.
The question is how durable, and mobile, will Big Ben be? It's no secret that he extends ample plays with his legs so if he's confined to the pocket he won't be as dangerous. And it's not as if his first test back comes against a mediocre or weak defense. The Bengals flat out test you up front, and the loss of Maurkice Pouncey is a real concern.
We released Ravens -4.5, but again, had moved down 1.5 points very quickly due to the wiseguys grabbing a lot of Chargers. They didn't overreact to San Diego's performance last week, and they know how handicapped this Baltimore team really is. It looks like this number has settled and will remain at -3.
Negligible in our eyes whether it's McCown or Manziel. Very likely that this spread will climb in favor of Arizona as we draw closer to the weekend and the public gets involved.
48.5 (-110) ($10.00 wins $9.09)
The Bengals are averaging an impressive 30.3 points per game, while the Steelers were averaging 32.0 points per game with Roethlisberger in the lineup. I like the over here.
The play: over 48.5
- The total has gone OVER in five of Cincinnati's last six games
Steelers will score over 24 points -115 ($10.00 wins $8.70)
Antonio Brown over 100 receiving yards (even odds) ($10.00 wins $10.00)
The Long Shot
Le'Veon Bell will score the first touchdown of the game +500 ($10.00 wins $50.00)
Bengals 34, Steelers 28