NFL Picks: Recent Results Suggest Low-Scoring Game Between Steelers & Bengals

Swinging Johnson

Friday, January 8, 2016 11:16 PM GMT

An AFC North clash is on tap for this weekend between the Steelers and Bengals but who wins and loses doesn’t matter as we focus exclusively on the total points scored. Let us take a look at what the NFL odds makers have set for a number on this one.

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NFL Pick: Under 45.5

Best Line Offered: at Heritage

 

The Golden Rule
This is not the Golden Rule but it is my golden rule for handicapping playoff games whether it be totals or sides – focus on the last three games. How is a team trending and why are they trending that way? Peer inside the numbers to determine if injuries have played a part in a tailspin or an injection of talent from the injured reserve list has suddenly sparked a winning streak. Examine a team’s assets and liabilities while considering how those strengths and weaknesses matchup with their upcoming opponent. The only game you may want to consider other than those over the past three is the game, or games, that the two teams have played during the current season. Oftentimes even that can be misleading if a team has gotten healthier or weaker from that previous meeting(s).

Now let’s turn our attention to the matchup at hand and review what the NFL odds makers are hanging on this total between AFC North rivals the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. The last time these teams met in Cincinnati was on December 13th when the Steelers came away with a 33-20 victory for a combined score of 53 points. Those who bet over the posted total of 49 cashed narrowly in their NFL picks. Twenty-three points were scored at the half giving punters on both sides of the total a case of agita but ultimately the second half proved to be favorable to those who wanted the total to go high.

 

Queen City Showdown
The NFL odds makers are installing this total at 45 ½ with Heritage being one of the few that is hanging a 46 as of this writing. If you have researched the last six contests played in Cincinnati the over/under is 3-3 so no betting trend to be had there. Saturday’s game will not have Andy Dalton pulling the trigger and if you scan the box score of the last game played between these two teams you will find that despite the Steelers scoring 33 points not a touchdown was tossed by Big Ben Roethlisberger. The Pittsburgh quarterback was 30-of-39 amassing 282 yards through the air while his counterpart AJ McCarron had 280 yards passing with a pair of endzone strikes but two interceptions.

The Bengals’ last three games have gone under the posted total but let’s not forget that those opponents were the 49ers, Broncos and Ravens. The Steelers’ last two contests have gone under the number as well but again those games were against the anemic Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns.  

So does that mean this should be an under play? Glad you asked and yes it does. The Bengals pass rush is for real and the Steelers have a relative patchwork offensive line without Maurice Pouncey and Kelvin Beachum protecting Roethlisberger.  The heat will be on the Steelers’ quarterback and with DeAngelo Williams’ status up in the air their ground game may suffer as well as their passing game.

On the flipside we will have an inexperienced AJ McCarron at the helm or an experienced Andy Dalton who will be far from one hundred percent. The reports out of Cincinnati are that the second year product out of Alabama will get the nod which means he will be targeting Tyler Eifert with short passes as opposed to stretching the field with AJ Green. The Steelers have had difficulty defending those tall targets on the end of the offensive line all season and Eifert is one of the best at that position. This one will be much more of a defensive battle than many believe and we will gladly go low in this one.