NFL Wild Card Betting: Steelers at Bengals SU

Posted by Aaron . on January 6, 2016 in

Even though they won the AFC North Division and sit as the #3 seed in the AFC playoffs, the Cincinnati Bengals find themselves in a close matchup against their division rivals, the Pittsburgh Steelers, who come to town this Saturday in an NFL wild card betting matchup.

The Bengals and Steelers split their two regular season matchups this season. In Week 8, Cincinnati won a 16-10 matchup in Pittsburgh, a game when Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was limited by a knee injury. In Week 14, Pittsburgh won a 33-20 matchup in Cincinnati, as the Steelers knocked Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton out of the game with a fractured thumb, an injury that would sideline him for the rest of the season. The interception happened on a fluke shovel pass that turned into a Steeler interception, and Dalton injured himself in making the tackle.

In Week 14, Pittsburgh won a 33-20 matchup in Cincinnati.

Coming down the stretch, both teams have shown both flashes of greatness and inconsistency. The Bengals have gone 2-1 in the games since Dalton went down, led by backup quarterback A.J. McCarron. The Bengals have relied heavily on their running game and their defense to carry them, as McCarron does not have the explosive passing game that Dalton provides. Even so, the Bengals’ only loss during the last three games came in overtime in Denver, a difficult place to play. The Steelers have beaten both Denver and Cincinnati in the last month of the season, but Denver was also featuring a backup quarterback in Brock Osweiler. Since then, they have lost to Baltimore and struggled to hold off a Cleveland Browns team starting their third-string quarterback, with Josh McCown and Johnny Manziel both suffering from injuries (although Manziel wasn’t too injured to head to Vegas and don a disguise, according to some reports:

The main question in this game will be the playing status of Andy Dalton. If his thumb is good enough for him to pass the ball, the Bengals will be more multi-dimensional on offense and could return to their explosive stats from earlier in the season — so long as Dalton can shake off the rust that comes with missing a month of work. Another question will be the status of Steelers running back DeAngelo Williams. He missed a good bit of the Steelers’ Week 17 win over the Cleveland Browns due to an ankle injury. The initial MRI showed a strain rather than a fracture, which is good news for the team. If the ankle can hold up, then the team will not have to rely on the passing game alone.

Expert Pick and Final Score Prediction

I think that the Bengals will stick to their pattern of winning tough games this season. This is a relatively new pattern for them — they’ve lost the wild card game four years in a row — but they have shown real resilience this season and should hold off a Steelers team that could not beat Ryan Mallett in Baltimore. I like the Bengals’ defense, and I like the Bengals to win, 27-20.