Sunday Night Football betting preview: Bengals at Steelers

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Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3.5, 47.5)

The Cincinnati Bengals earned a playoff slot by knocking off Denver on
Monday night, but they have plenty to play for when they visit the
Pittsburgh Steelers on Sunday night in a showdown for the AFC North
title. Cincinnati has to overcome a short week following Monday’s win
and find a way to avenge a 21-point home loss to the Steelers on Dec. 7.
“I wouldn’t want it any other way,” Bengals defensive end Wallace
Gilberry said. “It’s always good to be playing meaningful football in
December.”

Pittsburgh has won three straight and seven of nine to
return to the postseason following a two-year hiatus that featured
consecutive 8-8 records. The Steelers scored 25 unanswered points in the
fourth quarter to stun Cincinnati three weeks ago and will claim the
No. 3 seed with a victory. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton missed
practice Wednesday and is among a number of key players battling the flu
while Pro Bowl wideout A.J. Green is questionable due to an arm
injury.

TV: 8:30 p.m. ET, NBC.

LINE HISTORY:
Most shops opened Big Ben’s squad as field goal favorites. After some slight movement upwards to -4, the line is currently sitting at -3.5.

WHAT CAPPERS SAY: “Cincinnati and Pittsburgh just played three weeks ago with the Steelers winning 42-21 on the road as 3-point underdogs. The Bengals led 21-17 going into the fourth quarter, but the Steelers erupted for 25 points during the final 15 minutes of that game. The roles are now reversed with Pittsburgh the home favorite, but Cincinnati is coming off a big home win over the Broncos on Monday night, so it will be interesting to see if they can put up another big effort on a short week with travel.” Covers Expert Steve Merrill

CHEERLEADER WAR:

ABOUT THE BENGALS (10-4-1): Cincinnati still has an outside shot
at earning the No. 2 seed and a first-round bye if Denver somehow loses
at home to Oakland, but the biggest concern is the health of Green, who
torched the Steelers for 11 catches for 224 yards and a TD earlier this
month. Green reported improvement after injuring his arm early in
Monday’s victory but did not have a catch in that game and was unable to
practice Wednesday. Rookie running back Jeremy Hill has rumbled for 295
yards and three touchdowns in the last two wins, but he was limited to
46 yards on eight carries by Pittsburgh. The Bengals picked off Peyton
Manning four times Monday, but they were shredded for 543 yards by the
Steelers in earlier matchup.

ABOUT THE STEELERS (10-5):
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has established career highs with 4,635
yards and 30 touchdowns (against only eight interceptions) and has the
league’s most consistent weapon in wide receiver Antonio Brown, who
leads the NFL with 122 catches and 1,570 yards. Running back Le’Veon
Bell provides outstanding balance to the offense, rushing for 1,341
yards and eight scores to go with 77 receptions and three more
touchdowns. Bell has been limited to a combined 110 yards rushing over
the last two games, but he piled up 235 total yards and three scores
against the Bengals in Week 14. Pittsburgh is vulnerable to the pass,
ranking 27th with an average of 255.2 yards allowed, and has only nine
interceptions.

TWEET BEAT:



TRENDS:

* Steelers are 7-0 ATS against a team with a winning record
* Under is 5-0 in the Bengals’ last five road games
* Over is 6-1 in the Steelers’ last seven home games
* Road team is 17-8-1 ATS in their last 26 meetings

COVERS CONSENSUS: At the time of writing, 56 percent of Covers Consensus users were on the black and gold to cover the spread.

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