AFC Wild Card Playoff Betting Picks: Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals

2016 NFL Playoffs
AFC Wild Card Game
#6 Pittsburgh Steelers at #3 Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday, January 9, 2016, 8:15 pm Eastern, TV: CBS
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
Opening Line: Pittsburgh -3 (+105)
Current Line: Pittsburgh -3 (-105)
Opening Total: 46 (over -115)
Current Total: 45 1/2
Opening Money Line: Steelers -135 / Bengals +115
Current Money Line: Steelers -150 / Bengals +130

The Steelers are 3 point favorites against the Bengals in the Wild Card game Saturday Night in Cincinnati.
The Steelers are 3 point favorites against the Bengals in the Wild Card game Saturday Night in Cincinnati.

The 10-6 Pittsburgh Steelers and 12-4 Cincinnati Bengals renew their rivalry Saturday night in Cincinnati in the AFC Wild Card playoffs. The Bengals won the AFC North and tied for the best record in the AFC with the Denver Broncos and New England Patriots. Denver won the three way tiebreaker for home field and Cincinnati fell all the way to the three seed. If the Bengals beat the Steelers, then they will travel to the Patriots next Saturday. Cincinnati hasn’t won a playoff game since 1991.

Pittsburgh was upset two weeks ago by the Baltimore Ravens. Because of the loss, Pittsburgh found themselves tied with the New York Jets for the last playoff spot in the AFC. New York held the  tiebreaker though. The Jets only had to win on the road at the Buffalo Bills to clinch the spot. They would have also clinched with a Pittsburgh loss to the Cleveland Browns. The Steelers needed a win plus a Jets loss. Pittsburgh won at Cleveland 28-12 and New York lost at Buffalo 22-17 allowing the Steelers to sneak into the playoffs. If Pittsburgh beats Cincinnati Saturday, then they will travel to Denver next Sunday.

Pittsburgh leads the series 57-35 against Cincinnati. The teams split the season series with each winning on the road. The Bengals won in Pittsburgh 16-10 November 1 and the Steelers returned the favor 33-20 December 13 in Cincinnati. This is only the second playoff meeting between these longtime division rivals. Cincinnati fans still have nightmares about the 2006 Wild Card game when they hosted Pittsburgh. Carson Palmer, then the Bengals’ quarterback tore his ACL on the first series of the game. Pittsburgh would go on to win that game and Super Bowl XL.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have home wins over the San Francisco 49ers 43-18, Arizona Cardinals 25-13, Oakland Raiders 38-35, Cleveland Browns 30-9, Indianapolis Colts 45-10 and Broncos 34-27, along with road wins at the St. Louis Rams 12-6, San Diego Chargers 24-20, Bengals and Browns last week. Pittsburgh has road losses at the New England Patriots 28-21, Kansas City Chiefs 23-13, Seattle Seahawks 39-30 and Baltimore Ravens 20-17, along with home losses to the Ravens 23-20 in overtime and Bengals 16-10.

Pittsburgh was a 13 point favorite against Cleveland and the total was 47. The Steelers took a 14-9 lead into halftime. The teams exchanged field goals to make it 17-12 early in the fourth. Pittsburgh scored the last 11 points to not only win but cover the spread as well. The game was sloppy with 7 turnovers, including 4 by the Browns. Pittsburgh 9-6-1 ATS and the total is 6-10 this season.

Cincinnati is coached by Marvin Lewis. The Bengals have home wins over the San Diego Chargers 24-19, Chiefs 36-21, Seattle Seahawks 27-24 in overtime, Cleveland Browns 31-10, St. Louis Rams 31-7 and Baltimore Ravens 24-16 last week, plus road wins at the Oakland Raiders 33-13, Baltimore Ravens 28-24, Buffalo Bills 34-21, Pittsburgh Steelers 16-10, Browns 37-3 and San Francisco 49ers 24-14. Cincinnati has home losses to the Houston Texans 10-6 and Steelers 33-20, plus road losses at the Arizona Cardinals 34-31 and Denver Broncos 20-17 in overtime.

Cincinnati was a 10 point favorite against Baltimore and the total was 40.5. The Ravens took a 9-7 lead into halftime, but the Bengals would score 17 straight points to make it 24-9. Baltimore scored a late touchdown to get inside the spread and make the final 24-16. The Ravens had 2 turnovers. Cincinnati is 12-3-1 ATS and the total is 7-9 this season.

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Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 26-20 this season. The Steelers are #11 in points allowed and #4 in scoring. Pittsburgh is averaging 395 yards per game on offense including 288 passing and 108 rushing yards. The Steelers are #3 in total and passing offense. On defense, Pittsburgh is allowing 363 total yards per game including 272 passing and 91 rushing yards. Pittsburgh is #5 in rush defense but #30 against the pass.  The Steelers are  79/205 on third and fourth down conversions. Opponents are 97/249. Pittsburgh has forced 48 sacks and allowed 33 this year. The Steelers are +2 in turnovers, with 2 defensive touchdowns and a special teams touchdown.

Pittsburgh has used three quarterbacks this season. Ben Roethlisberger had completed 68% of his passes for 3,938 yards with 21 touchdowns and 16 interceptions, and also has 29 rushing yards. He missed several games with a foot injury. Michael Vick started a few games but was benched in favor of Landry Jones. Vick has thrown for 371 yards with 2 interceptions, and also has 99 rushing yards. Jones has passed for 513 yards with 3 touchdowns and 4 interceptions.

Running back DeAngelo Williams has 200 carries for 907 yards and 11 touchdowns, along with 40 catches for 367 yards. He is questionable with a foot injury. Le’Veon Bell has 113 carries for 556 yards and 3 touchdowns along with 24 catches for 136 yards. He is out for the season with a torn ACL. Besides Vick and Roethlisberger, no other running back has more than 4 carries.

Receiver Antonio Brown has 136 catches for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns, plus 28 rushing yards. Martavis Bryant has 50 catches for 765 yards and 6 touchdowns. Markus Wheaton has 44 catches for 749 yards and 5 touchdowns.  Tight end Heath Miller has 60 catches for 545 yards and 2 touchdowns. Darrius Heyward-Bey has 21 catches for 314 yards and 2 touchdowns. Sammie coates is questionable with an illness. Three offensive linemen are on the injury report.

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Cincinnati is outscoring teams 26-17 this season. The Bengals are #7 in scoring and #2 in points allowed. Cincinnati averages 358 yards per game on offense including 245 passing and 113 rushing yards. The Bengals are in the top 15 in all three categories.  Cincinnati is allowing 341 yards per game on defense including 249 passing and 92 rushing yards. The Bengals are #11 in total defense and #7 in rush defense. Cincinnati is 88/213 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 97/238. The Bengals have forced 42 sacks and have allowed 32. Cincinnati is +11 in turnovers. The Bengals have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns.

Quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 66.1% of his passes for 3,250 yards with 25 touchdowns and 7 interceptions, and also has 142 rushing yards and 3 touchdowns. He suffered a broken thumb in the last game against the Steelers a few weeks ago. He is out Saturday but could return next week if the Bengals advance. He was replaced by A.J. McCarron, who has thrown for 854 yards with 6 touchdowns and 2 interceptions, and also has 31 rushing yards.

Running back Jeremy Hill has 223 carries for 794 yards with 11 touchdowns, along with 15 catches for 79 yards and a touchdown. Giovani Bernard has 154 carries for 730 yards and 2 touchdowns, along with 49 catches for 472 yards.

Receiver A.J. Green has 86 catches for 1,297 yards and 10 touchdowns. Tight end Tyler Eifert has 52 catches for 615 yards and 13 touchdowns. Marvin Jones has 65 catches for 813 yards and 4 touchdowns. Mohamed Sanu has 33 catches for 394 yards, along with 71 rushing yards and a touchdown. Mario Alford and Ryan Hewitt are both questionable.  Receiver James Wright is out for the season with a knee injury. Three defensive players are on injured reserve.

Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS in Saturday games, 11-3 in January, 12-4 against teams with winning records, 21-8 against teams with winning home records, 7-3 in road games, 9-4 in playoff games, and after passing for more than 250 yards, 1-3-1 after rushing for less than 90 yards, and 1-4 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards. The road team is 19-9-1 ATS in this series recently. The Steelers are 4-1 ATS overall in this series and 16-4-1 in Cincinnati.

Cincinnati is 7-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 7-1-1 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 5-1 against teams with winning records, 5-1-1 after passing for less than 150 yards, 9-2-1 after a straight up win, 4-1 after allowing less than 90 rushing yards, 12-3-1 overall, 9-3 against AFC teams, 5-2 after failing to cover, 17-7-2 at home, 1-5 in Saturday games, 1-10 in January, 0-6 in playoff games and wild card games. The over is 6-2 in Cincinnati in this series recently.

Pittsburgh was given a gift last week when the Bills upset the Jets. The Steelers are the team no one in the AFC wants to face. The similarities between this team and the 2006 Super Bowl Champion team are amazing. In both cases, Pittsburgh barely qualified for the playoffs and faced Cincinnati on the road in the wild card with an injured Bengals’ quarterback. However, this time I think the Bengals find a way to pull off the upset and end the long playoff drought.

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