Sun, Sep 15, 8:28am by Ed Scimia
Kickoff: 3:00am AEST. Monday, September 16, 2013
Where to Bet on American Football: www.IASbet.com
Few performances were as disappointing in Week 1 of the NFL season as that of the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers offense went nearly the entire game without having a scored a point on offense in a home loss to the Jacksonville Jaguars. In comparison, the Cincinnati Bengals’ 24-21 loss to the Chicago Bears was competitive, though the Bengals won’t be happy with blowing an 11-point lead in the second half.
Amazingly, all four teams in the AFC North division lost in Week 1, meaning neither of these teams lost any ground in the divisional race. But going 0-2 is a big hurdle to overcome if you want to make the playoffs, so both teams realize just how important this game could be to their overall campaigns.
While Cincinnati will come into this game with a healthy squad, Pittsburgh is dealing with a few injuries that could hurt their chances. Center Maurkice Pouncey and running back LaRod Stephens-Howling both tore ACLs in their Week 1 loss, while linebacker Larry Foote ruptured his biceps.
If Pittsburgh’s offense was looking for a bounce back game after their anaemic performance last week, it’s unlikely to come here. Despite the loss, the Bengals looked good on the defensive side of the ball, especially against the run (though they did fall apart a bit in the second half). They were also able to sustain several long scoring drives throughout the game.
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In other words, while both of these teams lost games, they certainly aren’t heading into Week 2 on equal footing. Cincinnati looked like a reasonably good team that lost a close game on the road, the Steelers have to be worried about how bad they looked against Jacksonville – hardly a team that is a Super Bowl contender themselves. Combine this with the fact that Cincinnati will be at home for this game, and it’s no surprise that the Bengals are a touchdown favourite.
I don’t think there’s any question that Cincinnati should win this game. But can they cover a relatively large point spread? One would expect the Steelers – who constantly seem to be in the playoff race year in and year out – to improve on their Week 1 performance. Coach Mike Tomlin should be able to fix some of what’s wrong with Pittsburgh in time for this game, and I’d expect the Ben Roethlisberger-led offense to generate points before the game’s dying seconds this time. Yes, Pittsburgh will go to 0-2, but I can’t justify picking against them given the big point spread.
Prediction: Cincinnati 23, Pittsburgh 17
Pick: Pittsburgh +7
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