2016 NFL Playoff Odds - Wild Card - Steelers vs. Bengals Betting Odds Preview

Line: Steelers -2.5

Two storied NFL franchises face off in this Wild Card round matchup. Both teams have been playing their best football during the second half of the season and this should be a highly entertaining contest.

The Cincinnati Bengals have become the model of consistency in the regular season in recent seasons. This year they tied their franchise record for wins in a season with 12 and claimed the NFC North championship for the second time in three seasons. The biggest question mark is starting quarterback Andy Dalton who broke his right thumb early in a week 14 contest against the Steelers. His status for this weekend’s game remains undetermined but most do not expect him to be able to play. A. J McCarron has stepped into Daltons place and played admirably considering his limited prior experience while going 2-1 as the starter. There may be a case to be made that McCarron may be the better option. Dalton has had several spectacular regular seasons that were followed by playoff duds and he has never won a playoff game. McCarron is unproven on the NF stage however he played and performed well on the biggest of stages while in college at Alabama and perhaps may be more equipped. Whomever the quarterback is will be blessed with one of the games best receivers in A.J Green who continued his stellar career with another spectacular season. Tight end Tyler Eifert has now joined the conversation for best Tight End in the league with an All- Pro season. The offense will also lean heavily on the leagues top 1-2 running back punch of Jeremy Hill and Geovani Bernard who are both versatile backs capable of putting up big numbers.

The Steelers had to deal with multiple injuries this season, most significantly to star quarterback Ben Roethlisberger who missed a total of 4 games with a sprained knee and a concussion and running back Leveon Bell who was lost for the season in week 6. Bell was replaced admirably by Deangelo Williams who had 907 rushing yards and 11 touchdowns on the season but also suffered a knee injury in the teams last regular season game and it is highly unlikely that he will be able to play. If Williams is unable to play fourth year running back Jordan Todman will likely get the start with second year tailback Fitzgerald Touissant getting some carries. This will hurt a Steelers offense that traditionally relies on the run to set up their passing game. That passing game features the NFL’s best receiver in Antonio Brown who produced an astounding 136 receptions for 1,834 yards and 10 touchdowns.

This game will be just the second time that these two teams have met in the playoffs with Pittsburgh winning that meeting on their way to a Superbowl victory. The Steelers are 2.5 point road favorites with Daltons health factoring into the equation. The Bengals have consistently flopped in the playoffs and will have to find a way to break their streak against one of the leagues most storied franchises.

Pick: Steelers -2.5

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