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Cincinnati Bengals

vs.

Pittsburgh Steelers


By
John J. Raspanti

12/4/11


The young Bengals (7-4) feel like they can compete with the first place Steelers. In their initial encounter, the Steel-crew (8-3) needed two fourth quarter interceptions against Bengal rookie quarterback Andy Dalton to hold on for a 24-17 victory. The Bengals then traveled to Baltimore and lost another tough game 31-24, but rebounded to edge the Browns Sunday 23-20. Quarterback Dalton continues to impress completing 60 percent of his passes and throwing 16 touchdowns passes. On the ground, Cedric Benson has gained 740 yards. Rookie wide receiver A.J. Green is by far Daltons favorite target catching 44 passes and scoring six touchdowns. Jermaine Gresham has chipped in with 37 catches in his second NFL season.

The Bengal defense is anchored by outside linebacker Thomas Howard. Free safety Reggie Nelson has two forced fumbles and a pair of interceptions. The Bengals as a team have 28 sacks, good enough for eighth in the league.

The Steelers will be attempting to win their third game in a row December 4. They squeaked past Kansas City 13-9 but lost All Pro safety Troy Polamalu to concussion like symptoms. As of Thursday, Polamalu is listed as probable.. Steeler quarterback Ben Roethlisberger has completed 63 percent of his passes. He's thrown 17 touchdowns and had 10 passes intercepted. The ground game has Rashard Mendenhall and his 574 yards. Roethlisberger tends to key on third year wide receiver Mike Wallace on most pass attempts. Wallace has grabbed 55 balls for an average of 17 yards a catch. Antonio Brown continues to improve every week. He lead the team with four catches in the victory over the Chiefs. Old-pro Hines Ward has picked up his production in the last few weeks. He now has 31 catches for the year.

The Steeler defense is ranked second in the NFL. Safety Ryan Clark leads the team with 65 tackles. Inside linebacker James Farrior and outside linebacker LaMarr Woodley (nine sacks) will look to up their intensity.

Defeating the Steelers in Pittsburgh could define the Bengals season. However, the Steelers always feel that they have an advantage. What’s their advantage? Their the Steelers and usually that’s enough.

Bettorsworld Bottom Line - The Bengals match up well with the Steelers. They are just about dead even in all the major stat categories with a few exceptions where it's actually the Bengals with better numbers. Yards per point numbers are even defensively but the Bengals get the nod on offense by 3 points. Think of it as the Bengals making better use of the yards they gain. Turnover margin is another category where the Steelers lack at -11 to the Bengals +1.

Just as in the first meeting, we're still a little worried about the Rookie QB going up against the Steelers "D", this time in a hostile environment. But, we're at the point in the year where you really can't call the kid a rookie any longer. He faced the Steelers and Ravens in back to back weeks, which is enough to make any QB grow up fast.

Unfortunately for the Bengals, they are in the same division as the Ravens and Steelers. That only magnifies this game even more if the Bengals want to keep their post season hopes alive. We think they are on the same level as the Steelers and can't pass up the points here. Our NFL model predicts a 21-17 Steelers win but we wouldn't be shocked by a Bengals upset. Bengals +7 -120

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