After losing a close game against the Tennessee Titans, the Pittsburgh Steelers have a quick turnaround and will be hoping to have better results when they play the Cincinatti Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium in Ohio (8.20pm ET, Sunday).
For the Steelers, simply put, the results they have had so far this season have not at all been what the team expected.
At just 2-3, the Steelers currently sit in third in the AFC North behind the (5-1) Baltimore Ravens and (3-3) Bengals and Cleveland Browns. On the season, the team has struggled to score points at times but more than that, they have struggled for consistency. The Steelers have lost three games this season, all of which came against teams either at .500 such as the Denver Broncos or below, like the Titans and Oakland Raiders. They have yet to beat a team better than .500 as well as their two victories came against the (3-3) Philadelphia Eagles and (3-3) New York Jets.
Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has had to take on a bigger role in the offense with the absence of running back Rashard Mendenhall and it has been to mixed results. Roethlisberger himself has performed well, completing on average 64.6 percent of his passes and attempting no less than 31 passes a game. He has thrown ten touchdowns and only surrendered two interceptions. His QB rating is a solid 99.9.
If the problem hasn’t been Roethlisberger, then the question really comes to what it is that has had the Steelers off to such a bad regular season start.
It isn’t really the defense though either. Although the Steelers aren’t shutting down opponents like they were last year when they had the league’s best defense, their 2012 squad has still been solid. They rank fourth in opponent’s passing yards giving up a little under 201 yards a game and are ranked ninth in opponent’s rushing yards allowing just 95. While these individual numbers are good, the biggest indicator as to why the Steelers are 2-3 is because their defensive unit has been without Pro-Bowl safety Troy Polamalu and linebacker James Harrison for much of the season. Also, the defense is allowing 23 points a game while on average; the Steelers offense is scoring just 23.2.
Then there are the Cincinnati Bengals, who at 3-3 on the season, are actually ranked above the Steelers in a now very competitive AFC North.
Coming into this season, the Bengals had a lot to look forward to. They were coming off a 2011 year that saw them post a winning record at 9-7 and make the wildcard spot. On top of that, the Bengals after drafting well, boasted the best rookie QB-WR combo of Andy Dalton and AJ Green.
This season, Dalton has been experiencing a bit of a sophomore slump with 12 touchdowns but nine interceptions. He is still playing well and is completing 66% of his passes while averaging a little over eight yards on each passing play. Green however has maintained his status as an up and coming elite receiver as he continues to be Dalton’s favorite target.
On the season in the Bengals’ first six games, Green has already caught 43 receptions, good enough for third best in the league and also leads the league with total yards at 628. He averages 104.7 yards a game which is third best in the NFL and ranks second in touchdowns with six. He has been targeted no less than nine times each game and is the only non-quarterback that has scored at least one touchdown in each game of the 2012 season.
Dalton and Green have been money for the Bengals the past two years and with them, the team hopes to advance to the playoffs and possibly even win the AFC North. Perhaps with the Steelers just a shell of what they were, this could be the year for the Bengals to make noise in this division. In order to do so however, they have to get this win Sunday night.
If the Bengals were to win, they would improve to a 2-1 record in the division. They would jump over the multitude of AFC teams that are 4-3 and would put themselves in a good position entering the meat of their schedule. With back-to-back games on the road against Denver and the New York Giants next up and teams including Dallas, San Diego, Baltimore and Philadelphia remaining on their schedule, the Cincinnati players are looking at this game as a must-win.
If the Steelers win, they will feel much more comfortable. At 3-3 instead of 2-4, the Steelers would join company as a .500 team in the AFC. It would put them at 1-1 instead of the almost insurmountable 0-2. A win would enable the Steelers to keep pace as they too have a daunting schedule remaining including games against the Giants, Redskins, Cowboys, Chargers and two left against the Ravens. If the Steelers win this game, those two remaining against Baltimore could loom large in terms of playoff implications.
In terms of playoff implications, this game really does matter even though it is only week seven. Both teams are coming off losses and both need this win to keep playoff hopes alive. Although the situation is slightly less dire for the Bengals, taking the loss would put them under .500 and with a tough road left to climb back into the AFC playoff conversation. Unfortunately, this seems like it will be the case. Even though Pittsburgh has a downright awful rushing game with Mendenhall still out, the Bengals defense is ranked just 17th in pass yards and 21st in rush yards.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals Betting Picks
Overall, the Steelers are just a more well-rounded team. Green will still get his catches and the game will probably be close like much of Pittsburgh’s games have been this season, but ultimately expect Pittsburgh to get the win.
- Looking at BetOnline Sportsbook’s spread, there is none. They rate the teams inseparable and price them up with no spread, effectively this means there is just a moneyline. Bovada make the Steelers narrow -1 point favorites. So back the Pittsburgh Steelers with BetOnline @ -115 to win this matchup. If you are not from the USA then bet on this with Bet365.