Cincinnati Bengals (+7) @ Pittsburgh Steelers Free NFL Pick: The Bengals beat the Steelers last time around, it took a touchdown pass to Andre Caldwell from Carson Palmer with about 20 seconds left in the game, but they did win. They were 3.5 point underdogs in their own stadium, so the 7 point spread here means the perception of these two teams hasn’t changed. Vegas still thinks the Steelers are 3-4 points better than the Bengals, you add the 3 points for playing at home – and there you have it, 7 points.
This is an interesting one because while the Steelers are 4-0 while playing in Pittsburgh, the Bengals are 3-0 while playing on the road. Neither team played really well offensively last time out. It was a game dominated by defenses, and Carson Palmer didn’t have very impressive numbers while throwing the ball 37 times, Cedric Benson only ran the ball 16 times, and yet the Bengals won.
Now this is a huge rivalry. Huge. These two teams really hate each other, I’m sure the Bengals have voodoo dolls that resemble Hines Ward’s chubby face with thousands of barbed needles implanted as angrily as possible. There’s no love here. In divisional rivalries, pitting two good teams against each other, I usually expect a split in the season series. And it usually works out that way. That very same thing may happen this time around, but I still think 7 points is too many.
The Road team is 11-4-1 ATS in the last 16 games in this series. The road team has won straight up in 7 of the last 10 contests. Prior to their game earlier this season, the Steelers had won 5 straight against Cincinnati. Pittsburgh plays a lot of close games – I expect nothing less here.