The only reason that both of these teams have a chance of taking the AFC North divisional title is because the previously dominant (9-2) Ravens have lost their last three.
Both the 8-6 Bengals and the 7-7 Steelers could be divisional champs with two wins and two Baltimore losses, and although the market is heavily in favour of a Steelers' win, I wouldn't be backing them with fake money at current odds of [1.52].
Success-starved Cincinnati have a massive opportunity to enjoy some post-season action as a result of five wins in their last six games. Importantly, they match up well in most areas against a banged-up and dispirited Pittsburgh.
Two tough losses in the last two weeks have resulted in the Steelers contemplating a longer holiday than usual this year; and even the normally phlegmatic Ben Roethslisberger threw his toys out of the pram this week as he ranted about some of the offensive play-calling (to be fair...he had a point).
Roethlisberger actually looked back to his old self on the field last week, for example pump-faking three times in typical fashion, before bowling out his first touchdown pass v the Cowboys.
He then aired out a 60-yard bomb to Mike Wallace that was vintage Big Ben, so any questions about his arm strength post broken ribs, were well and truly answered. Of more concern is the lack of protection his offensive line can give him against an aggressive defensive Bengals' front. That's a big problem.
Add to that a running game that has stuttered recently and it's hard to see where the Steelers' points are going to come from.
That's not the case with Cincinnati who should be able to exploit a decimated Pittsburgh secondary. In particular, receiver A.J. Green, who was nullified by Ike Taylor last time, should run riot against lesser defenders. Chuck the improved rushing of Benjarvus Green-Ellis into the mix (five 100-yard totals in his last six starts) and it's not too difficult to make a case for a Bengals' win.
It's sure to be tight and most likely low scoring, but the Bengals have a rare chance for glory and are more than capable of seizing it.
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