Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)
The Steelers had a big week last week. Not only did they big win, 45-10, over a competent Indianapolis team, but the Seattle Seahawks won big (38-7) on the road in Minnesota, against a solid Vikings team, so the Steelers’ loss the week before to the Seahawks looks a lot better now. The Steelers have been playing much better football since Ben Roethlisberger returned from injury. They rank 10th in rate of moving the chains differential and have moved the chains at a 75.65% rate in the 8 games Ben Roethlisberger has played, as opposed to 63.64% in their 4 games without Roethlisberger.
However, I feel like this line is getting too carried away, with the Steelers as mere 2.5 point favorites in Cincinnati. That’s significant because about 1 in 6 games are decided by a field goal exactly and it means that the Steelers are seen as the better of these two teams. That seems to overlook that the Bengals are legitimately one of the best teams in the NFL (even missing cornerback Adam Jones), ranking 3rd in rate of moving the chains differential. They beat the Steelers 16-10 in Pittsburgh a few weeks back and that was when Roethlisberger was healthy. This line seems to forget that. The Bengals are also in a great spot, as the early line has them favored by 7 in San Francisco next week. Teams are 31-14 ATS before being 7+ point road favorites since 2012. The Bengals are 10-1-1 ATS on the season and seem to be getting undervalued here again. I’d put money on them winning by at least a field goal, as the better team, without an upcoming distraction.
Cincinnati Bengals 27 Pittsburgh Steelers 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati -2.5