Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals, NFL Lines & SU Pick
Okay NFL gaming enthusiasts, it’s going to be ‘on like popcorn’ when the underdog Cincinnati Bengals try to take down the explosive Pittsburgh Steelers in their AFC Wild Card pairing on Saturday, Jan. 9, live from Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati at 8:15 PM ET.
You see, despite posting a better record in the regular season to both, win the AFC North and gain home field advantage in their opening round matchup, the Bengals will be forced to beat the Steelers without starting quarterback Andy Dalton under center.
Now, let’s find out if the Bengals can bring home the bacon as slight home underdogs.
How To Bet The Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals NFL AFC Wild Card Lines & TV Info
When: 8:15 PM ET, Saturday, January 9, 2016
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, Ohio
NFL Odds: Pittsburgh -2.5
The NFL AFC Wild Card odds for this intriguing showdown have the visiting Steelers as 2.5-point favorites on NFL playoff lines to beat the Bengals while the game’s Over/Under total is sitting at 46.5. The Steelers are a -140 favorite against the Moneyline while the Bengals can be had as a +120 Moneyline pick.
• Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 Saturday games.
• Steelers are 11-3 ATS in their last 14 games in January.
• Steelers are 12-4 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Bengals are 7-0 ATS in their last 7 home games vs. a team with a winning road record.
• Bengals are 5-1 ATS vs. a team with a winning record.
• Bengals are 9-2-1 ATS in their last 12 games following a straight up win
Can Bengals Overcome loss of Dalton to Upset Steelers at Home?
Why Bet The Cincinnati Bengals Odds at +2.5
There are a bunch of reasons why you should bet the Cincinnati Bengals in this contest, starting with the team’s outstanding defense.
While Cincinnati (12-4 SU, 12-3-1 ATS, 7-9 O/U) finished 11th in total defense (340.8 ypg) and just 20th against the pass, the Bengals also ranked an impressive seventh against the run (91.2 ypg) and stupendous second in points allowed (17.4 ppg).
Another good reason to back Marvin Lewis’ team is the fact that the Bengals are playing at home in front of their raucous fans. The Bengals went 6-2 SU and a solid 4-3 ATS at home this season, so that’s good news.
Unfortunately, Cincinnati will almost assuredly be without starting quarterback Andy Dalton. Now, the Bengals are preparing for the Steelers as if A.J. McCarron will start against the Steelers.
“We have to go into the week, obviously, regardless of Andy’s status, right now we’re going to into at least the early part of the week preparing with AJ,” Lewis said. “It’s important for the football team.”
McCarron will be making his fourth consecutive start and second appearance against the Steelers after taking over for an injured Dalton who broke his right thumb while making a tackle in Cincy’s 33-20 home loss against Pittsburgh on Dec. 13.
“I think the whole team, the whole offense, is going to step up for this challenge and really prepare hard this week,” McCarron said Sunday.
Dalton was leading the league in passer rating when he was injured. Still, Lewis says he feels better about McCarron’s play heading into Saturday’s showdown.
“We felt good about his (McCarron) decision-making those (last) three games,” Lewis said. “We weren’t as thrilled with some of his decisions his first opportunity. He’s progressed.”
Why Bet The Pittsburgh Steelers Odds at -2.5
There’s also plenty of sound logic to back Pittsburgh to bring home the bacon.
First and foremost, the Steelers will be facing a Bengals team using its second string quarterback and one that hasn’t been early as explosive offensive under their backup.
Pittsburgh’s (10-6 SU, 9-6-1 ATS, 6-10 O/U) potent third-ranked passing attack (287.7 ypg) should experience plenty of success against a Bengals defense that ranked 20th against the pass during the regular season.
With Pittsburgh’s defense limiting three of its last four opponents to 12 points or less, heck, even Pittsburgh’s improved ‘D’ is now a legitimate reason to back the Steelers.
Last but not least, the Steelers have a multiple Super Bowl-winning quarterback that knows how to get the job done in the postseason when the stakes are highest.
Expert Pick & Final Score Prediction
As much as I’d like to pick the Cincinnati Bengals to finally win a playoff game, I just can’t bring myself to do it knowing that A.J. McCarron will get the start in this matchup.
Is it possible that McCarron could play the game of his life and lead Cincy to the huge home upset?
Yes, that is a possibility. However, the more likely scenario is that Pittsburgh’s previously underachieving defense forces McCarron into at least one costly mistake that turns the tide in this contest.
If you didn’t know, the last quarterback in league history to start and win a playoff game after making three or fewer NFL starts was Gifford Nielsen, who led the old Houston Oilers to a road playoff victory in San Diego during the 1979 season.
The Steelers are 7-3 ATS in their last 10 road games and an impressive 9-4 ATS in their last 13 playoff games. The Bengals however, are 12-3-1 ATS in their last 16 games overall.
When it comes to head-to-head action, the pick for Pittsburgh look like a concrete selection.
The Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 meetings against the Bengals and 16-4-1 ATS in their last 21 road games against Cincinnati.
Making matters worse for the Bengals is the fact that the road team in this AFC North divisional rivalry has gone 19-9-1 ATS in their last 29 meetings while the Bengals have gone 0-6 ATS in their last 6 Wildcard games.
The Bengals are the only team in NFL history to lose opening-round games in four straight seasons – and the Pittsburgh Steelers will help them make it five in a row!
My final score prediction is Pittsburgh 27 Cincinnati 21