Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Pick
Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1 SU, 2-3 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (4-1 SU, 4-1 ATS)
NFL Football Week 6
Date and Time: Sunday, October 14 at 1:00 pm ET
Where: Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, OH
By: Kyle Cash, NFL Football Handicapper, Predictem.com
Spread: CIN -2.5/PIT +2.5
Week 5 Round Up
In college football, there exists the storied rivalry of Notre Dame vs. Miami, otherwise known as the Catholics vs. the Convicts. Welcome to the NFL’s remix on that – the Convicts vs. the Convicts! The Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals square off for the first of their two annual prison riots in a classic AFC North matchup. Pittsburgh has gathered all the king’s horses and all the king’s men to try to put their Humpty Dumpty start to the season back together again after hunting down the Falcons last Sunday, and they have given everyone the impression that they are back to contender-status. The Bengals roared back from a 17-0 late third quarter deficit to spear the Dolphins, using two late defensive touchdowns in a 24-0 fourth quarter rout to seal the victory. Vegas has Cincinnati as a slight favorite in their home arena with the expected total set at 53, and I have the expected number of Unsportsmanlike Conduct penalties by Vontaze Burfict set at a robust 3.5.
Big Ben Fall Hard
Toto, I’ve a feeling we’re not in Pittsburgh anymore. If Dorothy knew that the fabled Steel Curtain was going to have the 30th ranked defense in the NFL, she definitely would not have thrown them in every single one of her Week 1 3-team money line parlays against the Browns. Fortunately, Ben Roethlisberger was able to connect to a hot spot and re-connect his WiFi to mega superstar WR Antonio Brown, and it is a trend that should continue going forward. Le’Veon Bell continues to be mad online in his Instagram stories and comments, and he can stew further as fill-in RB James Conner returned to form against the banged up Falcons. Most importantly, JuJu has had the MoJo to start the season, and has been a consistent safety blanket as Roethlisberger and Brown work to get back on track.
Offensively, the Steelers can hang with anyone in the league, but the defense is a major concern. Pittsburgh is desperately missing LB Ryan Shazier inside, but Jesus Christ himself wouldn’t be able to solve the rest of their secondary woes, and it is time that people get with the new normal. Eventually, the balance in the force will restore and Pittsburgh will find a game script that suits their offensive attack without sacrificing their defensive heritage, but a matchup with a rising Bengals contender could make things worse before they get better.
Marvin Lewis and the News
If you’re a fan of Harry Potter, then you know very well that Sirius Black toiled away in Azkaban for 12 long years. If you’re a fan of the Cincinnati Bengals, you have been stuck in Marvin Lewis’s House of Playoff Cards for 16 seasons. With an impressive 4-1 start, Cincinnati is already dreaming of the chance to lose to the 9-7 LA Chargers in the AL Wild Card round, and they are well on their way.
Despite their lackluster history, Cincinnati is shaping up to be an AFC contender, and a win here would do wonders to cement their status in the playoff race. Even without stud TE Tyler Eifert, Andy Dalton has weapons all over the field. A.J. Green is up to his usual ways, Tyler Boyd looks like the perfect second banana safety valve, and second year RB Joe Mixon has been highly productive both pre- and post-knee injury. Moreover, Vontaze Burfict’s return from suspension coupled with their disruptive behavior upfront has lead to opportunities for scores from the defensive side of the ball. As an added bonus, K Randy Bullock is a perfect 18-for-18 in extra points, which is a luxury that the Cheeseheads in Green Bay would kill for at this point.
The Bengals should be able to move the ball on Pittsburgh’s putrid secondary, and if they can dominate the time of possession to keep Big Ben and company off the field, they have a great shot at hopping in the driver’s side for the AFC North title.
Quick Match-up Notes
- No team has surrendered more fantasy points this season to opposing quarterbacks than the Pittsburgh Steelers
- In the last 3 years, Antonio Brown has averages 7.6 receptions and 103 receiving yards per game. In that same time, he averages 5.3 receptions and 66 receiving yards per game vs. Cincinnati
- Over their last 10 matchups, the average total score for these two teams is 44, topping the projected total of 53 points only once
What History Has Taught Us
The Steelers have absolutely dominated their division foe in recent years, having won the last 6 matchups and 9 out of the last 10. Much like he has against most of this division, Big Ben has tamed the poor Bengals with a lifetime record of 21-7, although he has only thrown for 300+ yards 3 times and 3+ touchdowns only twice. Conversely, Dalton has looked like a kitten in his 14 matchups versus the Steelers, and has only beaten them once at home in his seven starts. Much like many of these AFC North clashes, the point totals have been fairly low, with most games being fought in the trenches like WWI, and the Bengals have yet to eclipse 21 total points versus the Steel Curtain in Dalton’s tenure.
To paraphrase good old Winnie Churchill here: if we fail to learn from history, then we are doomed to repeat it. Even though the Bengals have shown flashes of greatness and Pittsburgh appears to be one Antonio Brown sub-tweet away from self-destruction, the Steelers record speaks for itself. While I am an advocate of ditching preconceived notions about teams when all of the data tells us otherwise, the Steelers are the exception to the rule. They are the ultimate “zig when you think they are going to zag” team, and as soon as you get too high or too low on them, they break your heart. With a rainy day on the forecast and two titans set to collide, bank on this being a tough, physical, old-school rock fight. Death, taxes, and until proven otherwise: Big Ben dominating the Bengals.
Final Score Prediction: Pittsburgh 25 – Cincinnati 19