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Week 15 concludes with an AFC North battle between two teams on the opposite end of the division. The 11-2 Pittsburgh Steelers are in contention for the one-seed in the AFC, while the 2-10-1 Cincinnati Bengals are looking for their first win since November 1st.
Here is a closer look at both teams, along with a pick to win. Pittsburgh is a 14-point favorite on the road in this one.
The Steelers have turned heads for much of the season, winning their first 11 games and flirting with history. However, the magic has run out the last couple of weeks, as Pittsburgh has lost back-to-back games in primetime; a home collapse against Washington and a defeat on the road to the Bills. Now with two tough opponents left after this week, the Steelers will need to win this game to keep hope alive for the top seed in the conference and a first-round bye.
With a healthy Ben Roethlisberger, solid back in James Conner, and wide receivers like JuJu Smith-Schuster and Diontae Johnson, the Steelers are averaging 26.8 points per game, 12th in the NFL. However, they're just 26th with 343 yards per game, coupled with the second-fewest rushing yards per game.
Defensively, the Steelers are maybe the best in football. Their 18.2 points allowed is tops in the NFL, and their 327 yards allowed per game is the third-best mark. Pittsburgh also boasts a league-leading 45 sacks and a league-leading 17 interceptions.
It's been tough sledding for the Bengals, looking to build off of last year's two-win campaign. Despite a 1-2-1 start, Cincinnati has won just once in their last nine games, the latest a 30-7 drubbing at the hands of the Cowboys. Now the Bengals will hope to end on a high note and carry some momentum into next season.
With rookie Joe Burrow done for the year and Ryan Finley taking his place under center, the Bengals are averaging 18.8 points per game, the third-fewest in football. Their 345 yards per game is also 25th, while both their rushing yards per game and third down percentage is 29th.
On defense, Cincy is 22nd in the NFL with 26 points allowed per game. Their 388 yards allowed is 23rd in the league, as is their pass defense and third down stoppage rate. Furthermore, only one team has fewer than the Bengals' 15 sacks, but they do have nine interceptions.
The Steelers come into the game with an 11-2 overall record and an 8-5 record ATS. They are also 5-1 on the road, covering in four of those games. However, Pittsburgh has covered in just two of their last six games. But they like playing Cincy, winning their last 10 games against the Bengals and their last seven on the road against them.
Speaking of, the Bengals are a whopping 7-5-1 ATS despite a 2-10-1 overall record. They're also 4-1-1 at home ATS, even though they're 2-4 overall. However, Cincinnati has covered just once in their last five games and have won only one of their last nine overall.
Obviously, the Steelers are the better team here, but the question is if they cover, and honestly, there's a good chance they do. This game is essentially the league's best defense going up against a third-string quarterback. The Bengals have covered a decent amount this year, but without Burrow, they haven't had much of a chance. Give me the Steelers to cruise to a big win on Monday night.
Pick: Steelers -14