Mike Carlson touched down with two winning selections in his Friday column; he returns with his best bets for Monday night's clash in Cincinnati...
"The 9-2 Steelers would seem to have their division sewn up, but tonight they visit the Bengals, whose 5-6 record keeps them in the running for an AFC playoff berth. Pittsburgh has been playing down to the level of their opponents lately, and the Bengals are a dangerous team to play down to"
You might look at yesterday's NFL slate as a curate's egg, only if the curate were betting the spreads he might be disappointed. The Texans and Titans duly came in under in their game, and the Niners didn't even need the three points they were getting in Chicago, so our gambling padre may well have walked away from my last column feeling, if not spiritually enriched, at least not diminished in the things of this world.
Whatever eggs I may or may not have laid, none were as big as the Chiefs' soft-boiled job against the Jets in New Jersey. The crucial penalty for hitting the snapper on the Jets' would-be field goal looked to be more like stumbling than hitting, but it was valid.
The hold against Steve Nelson was virtually a copy of Tre'davious White's coverage on Rob Gronkowski, before he pushed Gronk backwards and got his interception. Followed by Gronk landing a version of the 'Superfly Splash' on him. It will be interesting if the outcry from the Haters out there can get Gronk suspended--keep an eye on that for next Monday's clash in Miami against the momentarily resurgent Dolphins.
But meanwhile, the Rev. Belichick left ex-Bills Chris Hogan (injured) and Mike Gillesee (not injured) inactive, while beating Buffalo with big-money signing Stephon Gilmore making two huge plays in pass defense and no money signing Eric Lee (off the Bills' practice squad) getting a sack and a half and an interception.
It was like Christmas in (early) December. Then the perigee moon rose, and all sorts of crazy things happened in Seattle, where the Seahawks look poised to make another late-season playoff run. Very quietly they are now 8-4, just one game behind the Rams.
Pittsburgh Steelers @ Cincinnati Bengals
Live on Sky Sports Action/Main Event
The 9-2 Steelers would seem to have their division sewn up, but tonight they visit the Bengals, whose 5-6 record keeps them in the running for an AFC playoff berth. Pittsburgh has been playing down to the level of their opponents lately, and the Bengals are a dangerous team to play down to, as they have a solid D and AJ Green to make plays.
But the Steelers -4.5 at EVS seems like a pretty good bet; you'd expect the Bengals to be home dogs by a couple more points. I also like the idea of another even-money bet, Pittsburgh over 10.5 second-half points at EVS; if they are trailing or even close at half-time I would call that a sure thing.
It's not, however, a sure thing Antonio Brown will play, and his individual play-making eclipses even AJ Green's. That mean's Juju Smith-Schuster is likely to see more targets, and I think it's also likely that in the red zone Jesse James may steal a TD, which at 2/1 on the Betfair Sporstbook seems like a good bet.
Le'Veon Bell may get used more as a receiver, which makes under 103.5 yards rushing at 5/6 attractive, as is Gio Bernard over 23.5 yards rushing and receiving combined, at 5/6.