Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers (-3, 48 o/u)
Sunday night’s matchup between the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers (8:30 p.m. Eastern on NBC) is for all the divisional marbles. Both teams have already qualified for the playoffs, but the winner will take the AFC North and host at least one playoff game.
The Steelers were victorious when the two teams met in Cincinnati. But the Bengals are fresh off a huge Monday night win over the Denver Broncos and have positioned themselves to close the regular season strong.
Simply put, both teams are playing very well at the right time and Sunday’s winner will carry that momentum into the playoffs.
Cincinnati’s defense put in an impressive showing Monday. The Bengals picked off Peyton Manning four times, one of which turned into a crucial late-game touchdown by corner Dre Kirkpatrick. They completely stifled the Browns and rookie quarterback Johnny Manziel the week before. If they can bring the same preparation and intensity against Ben Roethlisberger and the Steelers, they will likely win the division.
Cincinnati’s star receiver, A.J. Green, injured his hip against the Broncos, and his status remains in question for Sunday night. Green thinks he will be good to go, however.
“If I can go, I’m going — no matter what it is,” Green said. “We’re playing for something big.”
Pittsburgh, meanwhile, has combined dominant smash-mouth football with a high-octane aerial attack. Wide receiver Antonio Brown and running back Le’Veon Bell are both putting together stellar seasons.
After pulling away from the Bengals in Week 14, the Steelers went on to beat the Falcons in Atlanta and win against Kansas City at home, two teams that are also in playoff contention. The Steelers’ defense has really emerged during their three-game win streak and will be looking to sustain that level of play come Sunday.
Pittsburgh is currently a three-point favorite heading into week 17. The over/under is at 48.
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