Steelers, Bengals Fight for Playoffs In Key Divisional Game

By: Willie Bee | Thursday, December 20, 2012

Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
NFL Betting Preview
12/23/2012 at 1:00 p.m. (ET)
Opening Lines: Steelers -4, O/U 43
(click for latest NFL odds)
Television: CBS

Cincinnati Bengals: True road warriors this campaign, the Bengals (8-6 straight-up, 7-6-1 against the spread) look to move closer to the playoffs in a clash of AFC North rivals on Sunday at Pittsburgh. Cincinnati bounced back from a tough loss to Dallas with a 34-13 triumph in Philadelphia last Sunday, easily covering as 4½-point chalk after trailing by three at the half. The Bengals erased that 13-10 deficit with 24 unanswered points in the final 30 minutes and ended up dominating the clock by better than a full quarter. The final snapped a five-game run for the "under" in Cincy games, and the Bengals rank sixth in total defense (320.4 yards per game) plus 10th in fewest points allowed (20.9 points per game). Second-year quarterback Andy Dalton has thrown five touchdown passes in the past two games without an interception, and running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis has topped the 100-yard mark in four of the last five games to reach a career-best 1,080 yards on the year.

Pittsburgh Steelers: This is a must-win for the Steelers (7-7 SU, 5-8-1 ATS) after dropping their fourth contest in five weeks at Dallas last Sunday in overtime. The frustration was evident after the game in QB Ben Roethlisberger's comments, but Coach Mike Tomlin smoothed it over this week. Pittsburgh backers have also been frustrated with just one cover in the last six weeks per the closing spreads, and that was a 23-20 upset at a struggling Baltimore as a 6½-point underdog. The Steelers take aim at their third consecutive season sweep of the Bengals after winning 24-17 as 1-point favorites in Week 7 to extend the series win streak to five. All of the victories have been covers for the Steelers as well, with four of the last five clashes in Iron City staying "under" the total. That trend also plays well with eight of Pittsburgh's last nine at Heinz Field falling short of the scoreboard hurdle.

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