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Posted on 11/30/2007 1:34:45 PM
By: CappersPicks.com NFL Football Handicapping Staff
Football Wagering – Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
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Since the Bengals lost to the Steelers in Week 17 last year – dashing their playoff dreams in an instant – they have never been the same. Cincinnati hopes to break a two-game losing streak to their hated rivals as they ride the momentum wave of a crushing 35-6 victory over the Tennessee Titans. The Steel Curtain’s secondary will be tested by Carson Palmer and his trio of amazing pass catchers.
Cincinnati Offense vs. Pittsburgh Defense
The Cincinnati offense was been atrocious up until the last three weeks where they have averaged 27.6 points per game. Carson Palmer has certainly welcomed back Chris Henry in a huge way. The most talented third receiver in the NFL has 15 receptions for 221 yards and a touchdown in his last three games. Henry’s return to the Bengals has resurrected the Bengals much-maligned aerial assault, which is ranked third in the league averaging 270.5 passing yards per game.
That being said, the offense has stumbled due an ineffective rushing game. Their offensive line has been atrocious this year and they are fortunate to have Palmer’s superior field vision and quick instincts.
The Steelers have returned to defensive dominance in the NFL, which is the reason they have been getting such massive spreads from the oddsmakers. Pittsburgh is the second-best rushing defense in the league allowing only 77.1 yards per game. They also stifle opponents to a stunning 13.2 points per game, and have shutout both Seattle and Miami this year.
This will be the ultimate test for the Steelers secondary, which is ranked tops in the league. They allow only 152.1 passing yards against, but will be facing one of the most dynamic and deadliest passing offenses in the NFL. The smart betting investor will keep tabs on the health of Troy Polamalu, who usually makes life miserable for Carson Palmer. If he is not able to go, Palmer will play with a much higher, and deadlier, level of confidence.
Pittsburgh Offense vs. Cincinnati Defense
Pittsburgh’s offense has been one of the biggest surprises of the season. Under coach Mike Tomlin, Ben Roethlisberger has been allowed to take over games and prove to everyone in the betting community that he is much better than a mere game manager. Big Ben and the passing game average a modest 194.5 passing yards per game. Santonio Holmes looks probably for this Sunday’s game, and he will be a huge boon against a weak Bengals secondary that allows a miserable 243.5 passing yards against.
The rushing defense for Cincy isn’t much better. They give up 120.5 yards per game, and will have an inordinate amount of trouble dealing with Fast Willie Parker and the Steelers’ vaunted rushing attack. The Steelers gameplan is ground control – meaning the will run this ball down Cincinnati’s throat to keep Carson on the sidelines.
NFL Betting Trends
-Cincinnati is 3-6-1 ATS in its last 10 games
-Cincinnati is 1-6 SU in its last 7 games on the road
-Pittsburgh is 7-3 ATS in its last 10 home games
-Totals has gone OVER in 18 of Pittsburgh’s last 25 games at home
The Bengals are finally showing signs of life now that Henry is back. I know I toot Chris Henry’s horn a lot, but he really is the missing link in that offense, and it is obvious in the way that the Bengals have been playing with him back in the lineup. However, betting against the Steelers at home in a decisive game against a division rival is a tough sell.
Pittsburgh’s defense is still extremely talented and will the front-seven will pressure Palmer all night behind a shoddy offensive line. Because of the passing attack for the Bengals, they have a puncher’s chance in hell. The Steelers, however, have shown balance, poise, confidence and a fiery desire to destroy teams at home. As long as Heinz Field doesn’t turn in to a water park again, the Steelers will be able to hold off the Bengals for the victory.
Cincinnati Bengals (4-7) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (8-3)
Sunday, December 2nd — Heinz Field, Pittsburgh — 8:15pm EST
NFL Betting Odds Opening Line: Pittsburgh -7.5 (48)
NFL Free Pick: Cincinnati 23 Pittsburgh 31
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