Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
When: 8:30 PM ET, Sunday, December 15, 2013
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
The Cincinnati Bengals are on the verge of clinching their second straight AFC North title and third straight postseason berth. All they need to do is get a little help and knock off the stumbling Steelers when they visit Pittsburgh on Sunday night. The Bengals are riding a three-game winning streak and need another victory and a loss or tie by either the Baltimore Ravens or the Miami Dolphins to lock up a postseason slot.
Pittsburgh is technically still alive in the AFC, though at three games below .500 it would require three straight wins and lots and lots of help. “We understand the ramifications of what happened (to our playoff chances), but it really doesn’t change our plan of what we want to do this week - defeat the Cincinnati Bengals,” Steelers coach Mike Tomlin told the media. Pittsburgh dropped its last two games by a combined eight points against teams fighting for postseason spots and can look back at missed opportunities in each.TV:
8:30 p.m. ET, NBC. LINE:
Bengals -2.5. O/U:
41ABOUT THE BENGALS (9-4):
Cincinnati could wind up with a first-round bye if it can clinch the division and make up a game on the New England Patriots in the last three weeks. Andy Dalton is enjoying his best season and is coming off a three-touchdown, no-interception performance in last week’s 42-28 victory over the AFC South-leading Indianapolis Colts. Dalton is getting plenty of help from the two-headed running attack of BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard, who combined for 147 yards on the ground last week while adding to the passing game as well.
ABOUT THE STEELERS (5-8):
Pittsburgh nearly pulled off a spectacular victory over the Miami Dolphins last week with a series of laterals on the final play that ended with Antonio Brown in the end zone. Replays revealed that Brown had nicked the sideline on his way to the goal line, leaving the Steelers with a 34-28 setback and a very hard road to the playoffs. With Pittsburgh on the way down and the Bengals on the way up, some Steelers players are taking shots at Cincinnati. “I don’t think there’s a lot of respect for the Pittsburgh Steelers in Cincinnati,” Steelers safety Ryan Clark told the Bengals media. “I don’t think they necessarily understand the history, or know the history, nor care about it.”EXTRA POINTS
1. The Bengals have taken each of the last two meetings, including a 20-10 triumph in Week 2.
2. Brown needs 10 catches to become the second receiver in Pittsburgh history to reach 100 in a season (Hines Ward, 112).
3. Bernard leads all AFC rookies with 1,023 yards from scrimmage.PREDICTION:
Bengals 24, Steelers 20
Stats and Records