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Saturday, January 09, 2016

NFL 2015 AFC Wild Card (Steelers vs Bengals)

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Heading into their Week 14 matchup, these two teams were my choices to come out of the AFC. With them facing each other in a Wild Card game, this lessens that likelihood. The next key factor is the injury, during that game, to Quarterback Andy Dalton which has caused the Cincinnati Bengals to be the underdog at home. 

Pittsburgh At Cincinnati (+3; 45.5) is an early referendum on AJ McCarron. Since McCarron replaced Dalton during the game versus the Pittsburgh Steelers, the Bengals have won two and lost two. The loss to the Denver Broncos is why they did not earn a bye.

As a starter, McCarron's play has been steady but his lack of experience and big strike capability will likely hinder the Bengals in these playoffs.

Even with Dalton starting, the Steelers have had success against the Bengals -- a record of 6 Wins and 2 Losses coming into this season. Early this season, the Steelers lost to the Bengals in a low-scoring affair. Since that game, Pittsburgh has scored 28 or more points, on way to a 6-2 record.

For Cincinnati, its defense has been the steady force since that game. The Bengals defense has held opponents to under 21 points in 7 of 9 games. To beat the Steelers, the Bengals will need to score 24 or more points.

Against the Spread (ATS) this game is a toss-up - a battle between Bengals defense and Steelers offense.

So, I take the Steelers (OVER) because the Steelers defense is not likely to give up over 21 points to AJ McCarron. Pick wisely, and check out the pick for the other playoff games.

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