Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
Paul Brown Stadium, 8:15 p.m. EST. Jan. 9, 2016
If you like smash-mouth, hard hitting, uncensored hate, this is the game for you! Division rivals square off for the third time this season, and the hate between these two teams is palpable! The Cincinnati Bengals head into this matchup hoping to end one of the longest postseason droughts in NFL history. The Bengals captured their second division title in three years thanks in large part to a blazing-hot start, going 8-0. The Bengals haven't won a playoff game since the 1990 season. They will have to rely on a rookie quarterback making just his fourth career start against one of the most decorative programs in NFL History. The Steelers are hoping their high-powered offense can help them capture their seventh Lombardi trophy. After an up-and-down season, the Steelers secured their playoff spot on the last day of the regular season after beating Cleveland and having the New York Jets lose to Buffalo. The defense will be in tough against one of the more explosive offenses in the league. Let's take a look at some of the more enticing prop bets for this game.
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Total Touchdown Passes - Ben Roethlisberger
"Over" 2.0 +120, "Under" 2.0 -140
I have to admit, this line surprised me. I think Pittsburgh gets the job done and finds a way to beat these pesky Bengals. Sorry, let me rephrase. I think Ben Roethlisberger gets the job done and finds a way to beat these pesky Bengals.
Don't be surprised if Big Ben puts the ball in the air 50 times in this game. Antonio Brown, Markus Wheaton, Martavis Bryant, Heath Miller and perhaps Darrius Heyward-Bey are going to have to come up huge to accommodate for the lack of run support they will receive this game.
DeAngelo Williams is still "day-to-day" with a right leg injury. Hard to see him being anywhere near 100 percent for this matchup. That leaves Pittsburgh with Jordan Todman and Fitzgerald Toussaint. Don't feel too bad, I had to Google these guys too. Toussaint ran for 24 yards on 12 carries in the season finale, and Todman has four carries for 22 yards all season.
Cincinnati should score points against a terrible Pittsburgh defense, which means the Steelers will need to reply, and the Steelers WR corps is too talented to shut down for 60 minutes.
Look at it this way, the total is 45.5. Highest of the four wild-card games. With no running game, Roethlisberger delivers four touchdown passes in a crazy shootout that soars well over the number.
Pick: "Over" 2.0
Total Team Points - Cincinnati Bengals
"Over" 21.5 -110, "Under" 21.5 -110
One Word - SHOOTOUT! This game is going to be a wild ride. I hope you buckle in.
While Pittsburgh is sure to get theirs through the air, Cincinnati has a few different methods to their madness. They have a dangerous backfield with Jeremy Hill and Giovani Bernard, a very good touchdown-catching tight end in Tyler Eifert and one of the best wide receivers in the game in A.J Green. That's a tough trio to shut down completely.
Pittsburgh's defense has been shaky at best all season long, and they give up 19.9 points per game. Much is made about McCarron starting a playoff game in just his fourth career start, but the kid went to Alabama. Losing a game at Alabama is punishable by law (so it seems). He has a confidence and cockiness about him that you need to compete at this level. I think we witness his coming-out party. He will go toe-to-toe with the best QB in the division.
One crazy stat that stood out to me is the Bengals 11-1 record this season when they score 21 or more points in a game. If you like the Bengals on the moneyline, it's hard to imagine them landing on exactly 21!
Pick: "Over" 21.5 Team Total Points
Anytime Touchdown Scorer
Tyler Eifert +125
In a game where points are expected, how could you not like plus-money odds with a player who had 13 touchdowns on the season in the 12 games that he started? I spoke about the shaky Pittsburgh defense in my previous prop prediction, so I won't touch too much on it again. Eifert is a matchup problem for any linebacker the Steelers use to cover him. Doubling AJ Green on the outside should be priority No. 1, which should leave the middle of the field wide open. At 6-foot-6, 250 pounds, Eifert is a dangerous red-zone presence. I trust McCarron to read the defense and be able to audible into a play for Eifert to get the tight end a 14th touchdown and his first playoff score.
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