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Steelers Travel to Cincinnati in AFC North Showdown

If they continue to play with fire, the Bengals will eventually get burned, right? For the third time this season, Cincinnati needed a second-half rally to beat its opponent. Thanks in part to two Ryan Tannehill turnovers, the Bengals scored 27 unanswered points to improve to 4-1 straight up and against the spread.

Pittsburgh’s defense vastly improved week over week as it held Atlanta’s uptempo, high-scoring offense to 324 yards and 17 points. The Steelers are now 2-2-1 overall and 2-3 against the spread.

Cincinnati opened as 3-point favorites Sunday night, but that’s dipped to -2.5, while Pittsburgh’s moneyline is +106 and the point total a where-is-the-defense-approved 54.5.

Our friends at Linebacker have capped this game and have provided their Free Pick of the Week for Steelers vs Bengals. 

SHARK BITES
  • The Steelers are 6-0 SU in their last six games vs the Bengals (avg. winning margin: 7.5).
  • The Bengals are 6-1 SU and ATS in their last seven games.
  • The Steelers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games in the early afternoon.

Steelers vs Bengals Game Center

WHAT WE LEARNED

Steelers – With how banged up the Falcons defense is, it’s hard to glean too much useful intel on the state of the Steelers offense. All due credit to James Conner’s 110 rushing and 75 receiving yards against the Dirty Birds, but Gio Bernard, Alvin Kamara and Christian McCaffrey all accomplished the same fantasy football-friendly stat lines. What’s more promising is that a depleted Falcons secondary allowed Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown an opportunity to get on the same page. The speedy receiver posted his first 100-yard, two-touchdown performance of the season. The Bengals pass defense has allowed 277 pass yards per game along with 10 touchdowns this season.

If you felt a strong breeze coming out of greater Pittsburgh on Sunday afternoon, it was the defense breathing a sigh of relief. They sacked Matt Ryan six times, got 12 hits on him and finished with 11 tackles for a loss as their season-to-date defensive narrative flipped 180 degrees. To hold Matt Ryan under 285 pass yards and one touchdown in a game in which the Falcons were playing catch-up most of the afternoon is a win in itself. It’s some positive momentum to take into a game against another above-average offense.

Bengals – Andy Dalton was far from perfect in Week 5 against the Dolphins. In fact, it was his second-worst performance of the season. However, two timely defensive touchdowns lifted the offense on an off-day. Plus, and this is more likely to become a trend than 14 points per game from your defense, Joe Mixon will continue to haunt defensive coordinators. In his first game back following arthroscopic knee surgery, Mixon posted 115 total yards with a score and is now averaging 117 total yards per game.

NEXT LEVEL TRENDS – PITTBURGH’S AIR & ERROR ASSAULT

The Steelers are 2-1 straight up and against the spread when Ben Roethlisberger throws for 300 or more yards against the Bengals. He’s averaging 333 pass yards per game this season, while the Bengals have allowed Andrew Luck, Joe Flacco and Matt Ryan to pass for 300 or more yards this season.

Andy Dalton has passed for 300 or more yards in two of his past three games and faces a Steelers defense that has allowed 296 pass yards per game. Since 2013, Pittsburgh is still 15-6 SU and 14-7 ATS when opposing quarterbacks pass for 300 or more yards, a testament to its offense’s ability to score.

CINCINNATI, OHIO FORECAST

Cloudy with temperatures in the low 60s and 40 percent chance of rain, but humidity near 80 percent. Soupy.

Pittsburgh’s Chris Boswell has only attempted six field goals through five games. He’s 3-for-6, and 14-for-17 on extra points, as the NFL endures a kicking epidemic. However, he’s converted 20 of 20 field goals against the Bengals throughout his career.

Cincinnati’s Randy Bullock missed his second field goal in three games, but remains perfect on extra points, 18-for-18.

MY PICK

This is one of those “are you sure you want to fall in love with the Bengals?” gut-check games. My answer is no. The Steelers defense, though bad, isn’t as bad as it was the first four weeks. The Bengals offense, though above average, has played with fire too much and falls short in this home contest. Steelers win and cover and the OVER hits.

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