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The Pittsburgh Steelers have been one of the hottest teams in the league over the last few weeks. However, the Steelers are coming off a disappointing loss against the Cleveland Browns.
The Cincinnati Bengals have continued to fall south with their playoff hopes completely out of the picture. The Bengals dropped their 10th straight game after falling short on the road against the Oakland Raiders.
Week 12 presents an opportunity for these two teams to get back on track in this AFC North showdown.
Steelers led by defensive prowessFollowing a sluggish start to the season, the Steelers have picked it up over the last several weeks, which includes grabbing a five-game winning streak that has put them back at the .500 mark and in the mix for the playoffs. Pittsburgh may have stumbled against the Browns last Thursday night, the team has continued to trend in a positive direction. Much of that has come behind the strong play of their defense, which has been among the most effective in the league as the season has worn on. The Steelers are giving up just 20.0 points per contest while they are among the top teams in the league in takeaways as they are second in the league behind the New England Patriots with 26 through the first 10 games played.
The addition of star safety Minkah Fitzpatrick has made the world of a difference for the Steelers and has been a major playmaker and tone-setter for the defense overall. In his first eight games with the team since being acquired earlier in the season, he has tallied five interceptions along with a fumble recovery being returned for a touchdown. He has been the ultimate difference-maker and a huge reason why the Steelers are where they are heading into Week 12. He could be in store for another big game against a struggling team in the Bengals. Their defense may have to lead the charge with Mason Rudolph struggling as he's coming off a four-interception performance. The team is also dealing with injuries to JuJu Smith-Schuster and James Conner, which puts more of the emphasis on their defense to lead the charge on the road.
To make matters worse, Pittsburgh lost center Maurkice Pouncey to a two-game suspension as result of the brawl last Thursday night in Cleveland. Originally, Pouncey was suspended for three games for attacking Myles Garrett, after he ripped off Rudolph's helmet and hit him with it. That was reduced after an appeal this week.
Bengals plagued by offensive woesIt has been an absolute disaster for the Bengals this season as they are the last winless team on the season. Everything that could go wrong for them has gone wrong as they have had much trouble finding any fluidity on both ends of the ball. There has been no essence of consistency from them as the bulk of their issues have come from their lackluster offense under first-year head coach Zac Taylor as the team has decided to move on from veteran quarterback Andy Dalton as the team has struggled to put points on the board, averaging 14.7 points per contest along with just 80.6 rushing yards per game. It has seen them garner less than 20 points all but twice this season, including three games with 10 or fewer points.
The Bengals just haven't found any sort of stability from their offense that has been the least productive in the league this season. They have had plenty of issues trying to find any headway on the field. Joe Mixon was able to put up a respectable outing against the Raiders with 86 rushing yards on 15 carries and a touchdown, but it has been a largely disappointing campaign. The Bengals haven't received anywhere near the type of production that they hoped to get from their third-year running back. Ultimately, this is a game that will yet another offensive struggle, with the Steelers defense dictating how it will all unfold on Sunday afternoon.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Cincinnati is 2-5 ATS in their last seven games overall.
- Cincinnati is 1-4 ATS in their last five games on fieldturf.
- Cincinnati is 0-4 ATS in their last four home games.
- Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS in their last five games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Pittsburgh is 4-1 ATS in their last five games on fieldturf.
- Pittsburgh is 6-2 ATS in their last eight games overall.
The Bottom Line What to bet on this game.
Full-Game Side Bet
Although the Steelers are dealing with notable injuries offensively, their defense will be the difference in this contest. They are playing a team decimated by injuries and with a rookie quarterback facing a very good defense led by Fitzpatrick and OLB T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh has honed in over the last several weeks, becoming one of the league's top defense by their ability to create turnovers. It could be a game that is solely dictated by their defense, putting their fingerprints all over the contest in an mucky game for the Bengals. Expect this to be 11 straight losses for the Bengals.
Prediction: Pittsburgh -6.5
Full-Game Total Pick
Points will be difficult to come by on both sides as each team has had their struggles offensively. The Bengals will have a hard time getting anything going against the Steelers' stout defense. Meanwhile, Pittsburgh is dealing with injuries and has a struggling quarterback under center along with having their starting center out of the mix for the next two games. That should only make the situation that much more difficult for them to find any type of footing offensively.. All that equates to this being a defensive battle between these two longtime AFC North division rivals.
Prediction: Under 39