Week 3 NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (1-1), Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Sunday, Sept. 27th, 4:15 PM Eastern, CBS
By Z-Man of Predictem.com
Point Spread: Steelers -4/Bengals +4
AFC North Division rivals collide when the defending Super Bowl champion Pittsburgh Steelers visit Cincinnati to tangle with the Bengals Sunday afternoon.
Many online bookies opened this game chalking Pittsburgh at -4 , with an over/under of 37. But while the total has held steady through most of the week, the line has been bet down to four.
The Steelers are also listed at right around -200 on most NFL betting moneylines, with Cincy getting +170 as home dogs.
Pittsburgh opened defense of their league championship this year with a tough 13-10 overtime win over Tennessee a couple of Thursdays ago. But last Sunday the Steelers allowed a late rally by the Bears in losing 17-14 in Chicago.
In that win over the Titans, Pittsburgh got outrushed 86-36, and benefited greatly from two missed FGs by Tennessee kicker Rob Bironas. In the loss to the Bears, the Steelers won the ground game by a 105-43 margin, but saw their usually dependable kicker, Jeff Reed, miss two makable field goals.
Both of Pittsburgh’s first two games stayed under the totals rather easily.
On the other side of this match-up, Cincinnati began this season with that gut-wrenching 12-7 loss to Denver. But the Bengals picked themselves up last week, went to Green Bay and came away with a 31-24 upset of the Packers.
Cincy outrushed Denver in the opener 86-75 and held a 33-27 time-of-possession advantage. But the Bengals couldn’t score until the last 30 seconds of the game, and then, with a 7-6 lead, gave up a fluky John Mackey-like 87-yard catch-and-run by Brandon Stokley in the waning seconds to lose.
Then, last week, Cincinnati outrushed Green Bay 151-89, held a 34-26 TOP advantage and staved off a late Packer rally for its first victory of the season.
In two games this year Steelers QB Ben Roethlisberger has already thrown 78 passes, completing 56, for a 7.5 YPA, with three TDs and two INTs.
In his two games, Bengals QB Carson Palmer has hit on 36 of 56 throws, for a 7.7 YPA, with three scores but four picks.
The Steelers have beaten the Bengals five times in a row, and they’ve won eight straight games in Cincinnati, including once in the playoffs. Last year Pittsburgh swept the season series from Cincy, winning by scores of 27-10 and 38-10. But Palmer missed both those games while nursing a sore elbow.
However, Cincy is only 2-6 vs. the Steelers with Palmer at QB.
The Steelers outgained the Bengals in those two games together last year 739-420, and outrushed Cincinnati 246-127.
On the injury front, Pittsburgh will be without game-changing S Troy Polamalu, as he continues to deal with a bad knee.
The loser of this game risks falling two games behind the AFC North-leading Baltimore Ravens just three games into the season. Baltimore, 2-0, is a 13-point home favorite over the 0-2 Cleveland Browns Sunday.
The Steelers went 9-7 vs. the pointspreads last season, 5-3 ATS on the road but 1-2 vs. the numbers when giving points away from home.
Cincinnati went 7-9 against the spreads last season, 4-4 ATS at home, 3-2 ATS as a home dog.
Through the first two games of this year, the Sagarin PURE POINTS ratings at USAToday.com rank Pittsburgh 16th in the league at 21.0, the Bengals 17th at 19.6. Sagarin’s updated NFL home-field advantage figure sits at 3.2.
Z-Man’s Pick: It hard to admit it, but I believe the Bungles have a defense this year. Im taking the +4 and hoping for a straight up win or a loss by a FG.