Cincinnati Bengals (2-3) at Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2)
The Bengals started the season by not scoring a touchdown in two home games, but they fired their offensive coordinator and have played a lot better since. They nearly won in Green Bay, albeit against a banged up Green Bay team, then they blew out the Browns in Cleveland, and then they beat a solid Bills team. Their offense is going to be inconsistent because their offensive line isn’t good, but they have one of the better defenses in the league and they’ve moved the ball a lot better in recent weeks. Their poor start to the season isn’t irrelevant, but they were playing a pair of tough defenses (Houston and Baltimore) and the players hated ex-offensive coordinator Ken Zampese’s play calling.
The Steelers, meanwhile, are coming off of a huge win in Kansas City, but the week before that they were blown out at home by the Jaguars. Their offense hasn’t been what we’re used to from them, but they still have a dangerous pair of offensive playmakers and a strong offensive line and their young defense has come of age this season. Unfortunately, they come into this game missing a pair of important players, missing right tackle Marcus Gilbert and defensive end Stephon Tuitt. We’re not getting a ton of points with the Bengals as 6 point underdogs, but, given the Steelers’ injury situation, we are getting some line value with Cincinnati.
Cincinnati should also be completely focused on this game, given that they’re coming off of a bye and only have the Colts on deck. The Bengals will likely be 6+ point favorites at home in that game and underdogs of 6 or more, like the Bengals are here, are 73-62 ATS since 2002 before being favorites of 6 or more. There’s not quite enough here for me to bet on the Bengals, but they should be the right pick at +6. Under 6, this should be a no confidence pick.
Pittsburgh Steelers 24 Cincinnati Bengals 20
Pick against the spread: Cincinnati +6