(2-10, 4-8 ATS)
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(9-3, 7-5 ATS)
The Pittsburgh Steelers are on the verge of locking down a playoff spot in the AFC, and though they are the significant favorites in this NFL betting battle, the Cincinnati Bengals are going to stand in their way on Sunday afternoon.
The Bengals haven’t won a game since September 26th and have only covered two spreads in that stretch as well. Cincinnati has been certified train wreck, though last week, it came close to taking down the New Orleans Saints or not. The offense has put up at least 30 points three times in this run, but the defense has been absolutely atrocious. This unit has allowed an average of 31.4 points per game since the bye week, and the unit has allowed at least 22 points in each and every one of these games in this losing streak. Needless to say, against a stellar defense, allowing 22 points isn’t going to be something that parlays into victory. Offensively, we know that this team has all sorts of firepower on it, but putting it all together is going to be a real test. QB Carson Palmer just reached the 3,000 yard mark, throwing for 3,009 yards and 20 TDs, but he has also been picked off 15 times. RB Cedric Benson was a mess the first time around when these teams played, and he is averaging just 3.5 yards per carry on the campaign.
The Steelers are flying high right now, as they have three straight wins under their belts since losing on Sunday Night Football to the New England Patriots. That loss might ultimately be the reason that they don’t end up with the No. 1 seed in the postseason, but they took a major step towards winning the AFC North last week by beating the Baltimore Ravens. Defensively, this team is simply amazing. The black and gold are allowing just 62.2 rushing yards and 15.9 points per game, ranking No. 1 and No. 2 in those categories respectively. These numbers have gotten even better over the course of these last three weeks, as the Steelers have only allowed 29 points in total over these three. RB Rashard Mendenhall has rushed for 1,007 yards and nine TDs this season, but the passing game has really helped him out since QB Ben Roethlisberger has come back to the fold. Had Big Ben played the full 16 game season, he would probably be a 4,000 yard passer this year. He might get to the 3,000 yard mark anyway, as he has 2,078 yards and 13 TDs. WR Mike Wallace is still leading the league in the YPC category, averaging 21.2 yards every time he touches the football.
It seems like the easy choice to just take the Steelers and run, but this is a lot of points to be giving in a divisional tussle. The Bengals don’t have a lot to look forward to between now and the end of the season, but they do have this one that they would really love to look good in. Pittsburgh will win, but asking it to win by double digits is a big, big task.
NFL Free Pick: Cincinnati Bengals +9
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