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AFC Wild Card

Pick with Analysis


Game 2 of Wild Card Saturday in the NFL features AFC North rivals Pittsburgh and Cinci squaring off in Cinci with the 10-6 Steelers favored on the road over the 12-4 Bengals. The current line at 5 dimes sportsbook is Pitt -2.5 -120 with a total of 45.5.

Obviously the big story here is the status of Andy Dalton. Word went out on Tuesday that Dalton was doubtful and that AJ McCarron would get the start. We all know things can change between now and kickoff, but we'll proceed as if Dalton doesn't play.

Frankly, the Dalton situation may be overblown. There are only a few QB's in the NFL that can drastically change a game. We're talking Brady, Brees, etc. We wouldn't play the Pats in a playoff game without Brady. But Andy Dalton? The Bengals success this year is just as much the result of the rest of the team as it is Andy Dalton. Sure, Big Ben vs. AJ McCarron would seem to be a huge mismatch when you take into consideration big game experience, but we're not certain McCarron is a huge step down from Dalton. Certainly McCarron has big game experience. Albeit college.

The Bengals defense has been very good this year. They are ranked #2 in points allowed and rank #1 in the NFL in defensive yards per point with a 19.4. The Steelers numbers aren't too shabby either but note their offensive yards per point number on the road of 16.8. Not very good and there lies the basis of our selection here.

The Steelers haven't been as good on the road this year. On the road, they are a 4-4 team with the average score of their road games being 22-21. They face a Bengals squad that's 6-2 at home winning by an average margin of 25-17. The weather won't be cold, but it will be wet, with showers expected, which should play into the hands of the Bengals here.

A lot of talk leading up to this game has been about the Steelers offense. But the key here should be the Bengals defense. One of these teams defenses will be the story on Saturday and we think the odds favor the Bengals defense being the story. We'll go ahead and grab the points in a game we think the Bengals win outright. We'll also make a small play on the money line. Bengals +3 -125 and Bengals +130 on money line

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