The Bengals (6-9) started the season 4-1 and then the wheels came off. The defense was porous, the offense struggled to move the ball and injuries started piling up. They have now lost 8 of its last 10 games, scoring 21 pints or less in 7 straight games. The slide started with a 28-21 loss to Pittsburgh at home. The offense ranks 25th in the league with 335 YPG. The defense is even worse, ranking dead-last at 418.1 YPG. The only star on offense has been RB Joe Mixon, who has rushed for a total of 1,063 yards with 8 TDs and another 294 yards receiving.
Prior to the start of this game, Pittsburgh (8-6-1) will know if they have been eliminated from playoff contention via a win by the Baltimore over Cleveland. If they still have a division championship to play for, the league’s 4th best offense should be on full display. The strange thing is this team was in full control over the AFC North before losing 4 of its last 5 games. Now they are playing for their lives. Veteran QB Ben Roestisberger is in full charge of the 2nd best passing offense in the NFL. He has thrown for a league-leading 4,842 yards and 33 TDs and 15 INTs. The pass-catching duo of JuJu Smith-Shuster and Antonio Brown 2,686 yards and 21 TDs with Brown usually on the bad end of double coverage. Much of the Steelers’ struggles come as a result of a defense that forgot how to stop opposing offenses late in the season.
Prediction: Caution demanded before wagering on this game, depending on the outcome of the Baltimore game. If Pittsburgh is still in the hunt, there is nothing Cincinnati can do to stop the Pittsburgh offense. If not, perhaps Pitt will take out its frustration on the hapless Bengals. Play Pittsburgh -14 (Final score Pittsburgh (38-17).