NFL Betting Preview: Bengals at Steelers

By: Brad Young | Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Two rivals on opposite ends of the AFC North standings collide Sunday when Cincinnati visits Pittsburgh.  The Bengals (2-10 straight up, 4-8 against the spread) are gunning for their first victory since late September when they beat lowly Carolina.

Cincinnati is a dismal 1-5 SU on the road this season, and 1-7 SU versus conference opponents.  The Bengals are 0-3 when scoring 30 points or more, and have lost nine games in a row after starting the season 2-1.

Pittsburgh (9-3 SU, 7-5 ATS) currently resides atop the AFC North despite its modest 3-2 SU home ledger.  The Steelers are just 3-7 ATS versus teams with a losing record.  Coach Mike Tomlin’s team has seen the ‘over’ go 7-3-1 the past 11 outings when listed as the favorite.

Don Best's Real-Time Odds show Pittsburgh as 8 ½-point home ‘chalk’ over Cincinnati, with the total set at 39 ½.  CBS Sports will provide coverage of Sunday’s AFC North matchup beginning at 10 a.m. PT from Heinz Field.

Cincinnati continued its downward spiral towards the offseason with last Sunday’s setback to New Orleans as a 6 ½-point home underdog, 34-30.  The combined 64 points soared past the 45-point closing total, helping the ‘over’ improve to 6-3 the previous nine outings.  The Bengals had dropped consecutive contests ATS before covering against the Saints.

The defending AFC North champions have dropped nine consecutive contests for just the third time in franchise history.  The game appeared to be heading into overtime before a costly offsides penalty gave New Orleans a first down.  The Saints promptly scored a touchdown on the next play with just 31 seconds remaining in the game.

Quarterback Carson Palmer was 23-of-33 passing for 249 yards with a touchdown, connecting with wideout Chad Ochocinco five times for 96 yards.  Running back Cedric Benson accounted for 19 carries for 49 yards in the loss.

As bad as things are in Cincinnati, the opposite appears to be true in the Steel City.

Pittsburgh took sole possession atop the AFC North compliments of its victory over Baltimore last Sunday as a three-point road underdog, 13-10.  The combined 23 points never seriously threatened the 38-point closing total, helping the ‘under’ cash the third consecutive contest.

The Steelers won this defensive struggle by outscoring the Ravens in the fourth quarter, 10-0.  Pittsburgh finished the matchup with advantages in first downs (17-14), rushing yards (54-43), passing yards (234-226) and time of possession (34:08-25:52).

Signal caller Ben Roethlisberger was 22-of-38 passing for 253 yards with a touchdown and an interception.  Running back Rashard Mendenhall was limited to 45 yards on 19 carries, while wideout Mike Wallace caught five passes for 76 yards.

Pittsburgh defeated Cincinnati Nov. 8 as five-point road ‘chalk,’ 27-21.  The combined 48 points toppled the 41 ½-point closing total, enabling the ‘over’ to improve to 4-1 the past five games in this series.  The road team is 13-4-1 ATS the last 18 meetings between these teams.

Cincinnati defensive back Brandon Ghee is ‘questionable’ against the Steelers due to an injured groin.  The Bengals have a two-game homestand after this contest versus Cleveland and San Diego before ending their season at Baltimore.

Pittsburgh tight end Matt Spaeth (concussion) is ‘probable’ versus the Bengals, while tight end Heath Miller (concussion) and offensive tackle Flozell Adams (ankle) are ‘doubtful.’  The Steelers continue a three-game homestand following this matchup with games against the New York Jets and Carolina.

Sunday’s forecast for Pittsburgh calls for a 60 percent chance of rain/snow, with a high of 39 degrees and a low of 19.

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