Cincinnati Bengals (1-8) +10.5, 34.5 O/U at Pittsburgh Steelers
(7-3) -10.5, 34.5 O/U, Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pa., 8:15 PM
Eastern, Thursday, NFL Network
by Badger of Predictem.com
One of the AFC Norths best rivalries adds another chapter Thursday
night when the Cincinnati Bengals travel to Heinz Field in Pittsburgh
to take on the Steelers in a game shown nationally on the NFL Network.
Cincinnati enters the game fresh off of one of the rarest outcomes in
the NFL, a 13-13 tie with the Philadelphia Eagles at home last
Sunday. With the tie, the first in six years in the league, the
Bengals are now on a mini run of good fortune as they stunned
Jacksonville, 21-19, three weeks ago and then had their bye the week
before the Philly game.
Pittsburgh also enters the Thursday night showdown on a good note,
beating the San Diego Chargers by one of the rarest final scores the
NFL has ever seen, an 11-10 decision. By now youve read and heard
all about how the NFL botched the Steelers final touchdown in the
Charger game, and if you havent, go into the Predictem.com forums and read what some of your fellow bettors have to say about it.
Oddsmakers opened the game with Pittsburgh as 11-point favorites and
that number has held for the most part, although it has dropped to
10.5 at most offshore sportsbooks (with the exception of 5Dimes
which lists the Steelers as 12-point faves).
The total opened at 36.5 and has dropped all the way down to an
attractively low total of 34 at most books. The moneyline lists the
Steelers as -600 favorites, with the Bengals as +500 underdogs.
This weeks game on the NFL Network will be worth watching because it
matches the leagues worst offense, Cincinnati, against the leagues
The Bengals have been playing without quarterback Carson Palmer for six weeks now and their season stat totals show the difference he
makes when compared to his replacement, Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Bengals
rank 32nd in total offense (242.6 ypg) and 31st in scoring (13.8
ppg), and even with T.J. Houshmandzadeh and Chad whatever he calls
himself these days the Bengals passing offense is 30th at 159.4 yards
Fitzpatrick has played his best two games of his career in the past
few weeks and it has resulted in the win over the Jags and the tie
versus Philly. Last week he was 29-of-44 for a season-high 261 yards
and a TD in the Eagles game. Houshmandzadeh has had success in the
past at Heinz Field, as he has caught four touchdowns in three career
Pittsburghs offense is also dictated by its quarterback, Ben
Roethlisberger. When Roethlisberger protects the ball the Steelers
roll, when he throws picks they struggle. Surprisingly, he has had
his problems versus Cincinnati in the past as he has thrown eight
interceptions to the Bengals in his career.
The Steelers will try and get running back Willie Parker going
against the Bengals and their 23rd-ranked rush defense (131.1 ypg
allowed). Parker appears to be near full strength after missing time
with leg injuries, and the Steelers need to get their 24th-ranked
rushing offense back into gear because 99.4 yards per game is just
not enough to help take pressure off of Roethlisberger.
The Steelers top-ranked defense (1st in yards allowed 237.6 ypg;
2nd in points allowed 15 ppg) will likely make life difficult for
Fitzpatrick. They held San Diego to 66 yards rushing last week and
they have some guy named Tomlinson running it, so dont look for the
Bengals to be able to take pressure off of Fitzpatrick by trying to
establish the run either.
The Steelers won the earlier meeting between the two, a 38-10 victory
in the middle of October. It was the Steelers fourth straight victory
over the Bengals and their fifth in the last six meetings. However,
the Bengals do seem to have their number on Heinz Field as they have
won two of the last three meeting on the Steelers home field,
including a 28-20 victory in 2006 and a 38-30 win in 2005.
Not only has Pittsburgh owned the Bengals on the scoreboard in recent
history, as far as bettors go they have covered the spread in four
straight, five of the last six and are 7-2-1 ATS in the last 10 games
head-to-head. However, the road team is a sterling 7-1 ATS in the
last eight meetings, so take that for what its worth.
Both teams are 4-6 ATS this season. Pittsburgh is 5-5 versus the
total, while Cincinnati is 3-6-1 on over/under bets.
The over looks like it could be a good bet on paper, as Pitt has gone
over the total in eight of their last 10 games versus the AFC, and
the over is also 5-1 in the last six meetings at Heinz Field. But the
total is a low of 34 (or 34.5) because the weather is expected to be
cold and snowy come game time Thursday night.
Badgers Pick: Im sorry, but I just dont see how the Bengals
compete in this game. The offense, defense and weather all favor the
Steelers in this one. Still, 10.5 to 12 points are a lot to lay in an
NFL game. Regardless, Im on the Steelers here minus the 10.5.