NFL Sunday Night Football Betting Preview: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
Heinz Field – Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania

Sunday, December 28, 2014, 8:30 pm Eastern, TV: NBC
Opening Line: Pittsburgh -3
Current Line: Pittsburgh -3 1/2 (-105)
Opening Total: 48
Current Total: 48
Opening Money Line: Steelers -190 / Bengals +160
Current Money Line: Steelers -175 / Bengals +155

The Steelers and Bengals meet Sunday night with the AFC North title on the line.
The Steelers and Bengals meet Sunday night with the AFC North title on the line.

Both the 10-4-1 Cincinnati Bengals and 10-5 Pittsburgh Steelers clinched playoff berths last week with big wins. Now the two rivals meet in Pittsburgh with the AFC North Division title on the line. Cincinnati can also clinch a fist round bye with a win and a Denver Broncos loss to the Oakland Raiders. If Pittsburgh wins they will host a wild card playoff game next week. The loser will be the wild card and will likely travel to the Indianapolis Colts next week, but there are some scenarios that would lead to a rematch next week.

Since 2001, Pittsburgh leads the series against Cincinnati 20-8. The Steelers have won 2 straight games against the Bengals including a 42-21 win in Cincinnati 3 weeks ago.

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Cincinnati is coached by Marvin Lewis. The Bengals tied the Carolina Panthers 37-37 at home. Cincinnati has road losses at the New England Patriots 43-17 and Indianapolis Colts 27-0, plus  home losses to the Cleveland Browns 24-3 and Pittsburgh Steelers 42-21. The Bengals have won 4 of their last 5 games. Cincinnati has home wins over the Atlanta Falcons 24-10, Tennessee Titans 33-7,  Baltimore Ravens 27-24, Jacksonville Jaguars 33-23, and Broncos 37-28 last week , and on the road against the Ravens 23-16, New Orleans Saints 27-10, Houston Texans 22-13 Tampa Bay Buccaneers 14-13, and Browns 30-0. Cincinnati is 8-6-1 ATS and the total is 6-9 this season. The Bengals were a 3.5 point underdog against the Broncos and the total was 47.

Pittsburgh is coached by Mike Tomlin. The Steelers have home losses to the Buccaneers 27-24, and Saints 35-32 along with road losses at the Ravens 26-6, Browns 31-10, and New York Jets 20-13. Pittsburgh has won 3 straight games. The Steelers have home wins over the Browns 30-27, Texans 30-23, Colts 51-34, Ravens 43-23, and Kansas City Chiefs 20-12 last week, along with road wins at the Panthers 37-19, Jaguars 17-9, Titans 27-24, Bengals, and Falcons 27-20. Pittsburgh is 8-7 ATS and the total is 9-6 this season. The Steelers were 2.5 point favorites against the Chiefs and the total was 49.5.

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Cincinnati is outscoring teams 23-21 this season. Cincinnati is #9 in points allowed The Bengals are averaging 349 yards per game on offense including 213 passing and 135 rushing yards per game. Cincinnati is #5 in rushing and #22 in passing. The Bengals are allowing 360 yards per game on defense including 238 passing and 122 rushing yards. Cincinnati is #22 in total offense and #23 in rush defense. The Bengals are 83/207 on third and fourth down conversions and opponents are 86/222. Cincinnati has 20 sacks and has allowed 20 this season. The Bengals have allowed 3 defensive touchdowns this season and has one of their own. Cincinnati is even in turnovers.

Cincinnati quarterback Andy Dalton has completed 63.5% of his passes for 3,154 yards with 17 touchdowns and 15 interceptions, plus 57 carries for 161 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is one of eight Bengals listed on the injury report with the flu. He is listed as probable. Jason Campbell will start if Dalton somehow can’t go.

Running back Jeremy Hill has 199 carries for 1,024 yards with 9 touchdowns, along with 25 catches for 205 yards. Giovani Bernard has 165 carries for 672 yards and 5 touchdowns, plus 36 catches for 293 yards and a touchdown.

Receiver A.J. Green has 61 catches for 959 yards and 6 touchdowns. He is probable with an arm injury. Mohamed Sanu has 55 catches for 774 yards and 5 touchdowns, along with 51 rushing yards and a touchdown pass.  Tight end Jermaine Gresham has 59 catches for 440 yards and 4 touchdowns. He is probable with a toe injury. Eleven defensive players are listed as questionable or out. Kicker Mike Nugent is also probable with the flu.

Pittsburgh is outscoring teams 27-23 this season. The Steelers are #7 in scoring. Pittsburgh is averaging 415 yards per game on offense including 301 passing and 115 rushing yards. The Steelers are #2 in both total offense and passing. On defense, Pittsburgh is allowing 355 yards per game including 256 passing and 99 rushing yards. The Steelers are #6 in rush defense, #28 in pass defense, and #20 in total defense. The Steelers are 95/208 and opponents are 73/186. Pittsburgh has 30 sacks and has allowed 33 this season. The Steelers are even in turnovers. Pittsburgh has 5 defensive touchdowns and has allowed a special teams touchdown.

Pittsburgh quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 67.4% of his passes for 4,635 yards with 30 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. Running back Le’Veon Bell has 282 carries for 1,341 yards and 8 touchdowns, along with 77 catches for 774 yards and 3 touchdowns. LeGarrette Blount has 65 carries for 266 yards and 2 touchdowns, plus 6 catches. He was released and signed with the Patriots.

Receiver Antonio Brown has 122 catches for 1,570 yards and 12 touchdowns. He even threw a touchdown pass. Markus Wheaton has 50 catches for 627 yards and 2 touchdowns. Tight end Heath Miller has 63 catches for 720 yards and 3 touchdowns. Martavis Bryant has 25 catches for 528 yards with 7 touchdowns. Six defensive players are questionable or out.

Cincinnati is 4-0-1 ATS after passing for 150 yards or less, 9-2 in December, 5-2 in week 17, 5-2-1 after a cover, 19-8-1 after allowing more than 350 total yards, and 0-4 after scoring more than 30 points. The road team is 17-8-1 ATS in this series recently. The under is 4-1 in the series in games played in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh is 7-0 ATS against teams with winning records, 6-0 in December, 6-1 against teams with winning road records, 5-1 in week 17, 4-1 at home after a cover, 8-3 after allowing more than 250 passing yards, 5-2 against AFC teams and 7-3 against AFC North teams. The Steelers are 20-8-1 ATS in the last 29 games against the Bengals including 2-5 in Pittsburgh.

Pittsburgh seems a little healthier right now and I like them at home against the Bengals. Dalton is too inconsistent to be reliable in what is basically a playoff game.

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