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The Cincinnati Bengals will look to avoid a second straight NFL betting defeat at home against a divisional rival when they take on the Pittsburgh Steelers on MNF.
Matchup: Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Date: Monday, November 8th, 8:30 ET
Location: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
Game Line: Cincinnati +5
Steelers Notes: The Steelers have a lot of issues right now, but there are so many positive things going their way that they are hard to ignore. LB James Harrison has had a number of talks with the NFL about these hits that he has been issuing to opposing players, and it is a wonder whether that is going to really hurt this defense when push comes to shove. Pittsburgh has the most feared defense in the NFL, especially for opposing ground games. The Steelers are allowing a svelte 58.9 yards per game on the ground, easily the best in the NFL, and opposing rushers are averaging less than three yards per carry this year. The secondary has been a tad suspect, allowing 243.1 yards per game, but the end result has only been allowing 14.6 points per game. QB Ben Roethlisberger really hasn't played all that well this year, but he is hitting the big shots that this offense direly needed. Following his four game suspension for violating the league's personal conduct policy, Big Ben has come back and completed 63.4 percent of his passes for 754 yards and five TDs against two picks. WR Mike Wallace has only caught 17 passes this year, but he has certainly made the most of them, accounting for 397 yards and four TDs. WR Hines Ward has now caught 15 passes in his last three games, which is a real switch from the six catches he had in his previous three games. This offense just won't go anywhere without RB Rashard Mendenhall, though. He has a whopping 146 carries this year for 603 yards and six of the offense's 14 TDs on the season.
Bengals Notes: The Bengals are about as bi-polar as you can get this year, and the captain of this bi-polar ship is QB Carson Palmer. Palmer has had three games this year in which he has thrown for at least 345 yards, but four games in which he hasn't even reached 210 yards. The good news is that he is really getting the ball through his four top targets. WR Terrell Owens has 45 catches this season for 629 yards and five years in a season that is reviving his career. WR Chad Ochocinco has 458 yards and two TDs. The two rookies on this offense, WR Jordan Shipley and TE Jermaine Gresham have combined for 53 catches, 550 yards, and three TDs. RB Cedric Benson has rushed for 545 yards this year and two TDs, but he just doesn't feel like he has the same sort of gusto this year that he did when he was named Comeback Player of the Year in 2009. The real problems are coming on the other side of the ball, though. The Bengals only have six sacks as a team, which is tied for the worst mark in the NFL, and if you take away DB Leon Hall, the team only has a total of ten forced turnovers in seven games. This unit has allowed at least 22 points in each of its last four games, all defeats both SU and ATS. Needless to say, a sixth loss this year, especially with a trip to Lucas Oil Stadium coming up next week, would be catastrophic. This schedule is brutally tough down the stretch, and things are going to need to change in a hurry for "Who Dey" nation to get back towards the postseason again.
The Final Word: The Bengals have everything to play for here, but if there is a team that can just suck the wind out of a stadium, Pittsburgh is it. It might not be the prettiest of games, but making your NFL picks on the Steelers seems to be the right call even though this is a lot of points to be laying on the road, especially in a divisional tussle. You can bet though, that the Steelers are going to be looking for a big time serving of revenge to heap on Cincinnati's plate after last year's sweep that helped keep the black and gold out of the playoffs.
Free Pro Football Picks: Pittsburgh -5
Prediction: Pittsburgh 16 – Cincinnati 6