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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers Point Spread - Pick

Cincinnati Bengals (2-3 SU, 3-2 ATS) vs. Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2 SU, 3-3 ATS)
Week 7 NFL
Date/Time: Sunday, October 22, 2017 at 4:25PM EST
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
TV: CBS

By Loot, NFL Football Handicapper, Lootmeister.com

Point Spread: CIN +5.5/PIT -5.5
Over/Under Total: 41

The Cincinnati Bengals come to Heinz Field for an AFC North matchup with the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Bengals are coming off a bye week in week six, which followed two straight wins that have resuscitated the Bengals season after an 0-3 start. In their last game, a strong fourth quarter led to a win over the 3-1 Bills and suddenly things aren't so utterly hopeless for the Bengals, though there is still work to be done. The Steelers scored a big win on Sunday, marching into Arrowhead and beating the league's only remaining unbeaten in a 19-13 win over the Kansas City Chiefs. The Steelers have had a lot of issues, but it says a lot that they've managed to manufacture a 4-2 record out of the whole deal. They look for a big division win at home this week.

Beating the Browns and Bills is not grounds for a revival, but considering how bad the Bengals looked from weeks 1-3, it counts for a lot. Things had gotten so ugly, the Bengals canned their offensive coordinator after the Bengals scored zero touchdowns in their first two games. They have since upped their production and with their defense playing well, this is a team that now needs to be respected. A win over their division rivals this week would go a long way and in a division where no one is really doing that well, the Bengals at least have a chance to turn things around dramatically.

Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton threw two picks against Buffalo in his last game, but his play over the past several weeks has been a key in getting this offense back to the road of respectability. He started connecting with AJ Green to big affect in recent weeks, also connecting with Giovani Bernard, Brandon LaFell, and TE Tyler Kroft, who is the clear number-one tight end with Tyler Eifert on IR. They have a three-headed monster at running back with rookie Joe Mixon, Bernard, and Jeremy Hill, though the trio has been slow to get rolling on the ground this season. The line, which wasn't helping spring a run-game or keeping Dalton protected, has been more-serviceable over the past few games.

The Cincy defense will be a big part of the equation if the Bengals are truly able to climb back into the hunt this season. They have given up a combined 23 points in their last two games. They have difference-makers on all levels, with Geno Atkins up-front, vicious linebacker Vontaze Burfict, and Pacman Jones (questionable) at corner. Nick Vigil is also very active in the middle, with Carlos Dunlap a factor at DE. While the "D" has been adept at rushing the passer, they haven't really been getting many big plays, with just four turnovers on the season thus far. But with Jones, along with guys like Darqueze Dennard, Dre Kirkpatrick, Shawn Williams, and George Iloka, the secondary is pretty adept at curtailing the opposing pass-attack and we'll see how they do against Roethlisberger and Company this week. A few really big plays could go a long way.

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Pittsburgh really relied on their underrated defense on Sunday for the big win against the Chiefs. The Kansas City big-play ability, which had been on full-display in the first 5 games of the season was muted by the Steelers' "D" on Sunday. While the offense hasn't hit its high notes yet this season, Ben Roethlisberger followed his worst-ever game in a 30-9 home loss the previous week to the Jaguars with an efficient and effective week 6 performance, with some big help from Le'Veon Bell, who has finally got things to click after a 179-yard rushing game against the Chiefs.

Getting Bell to have a really big game was a great development for the Steelers, who are still looking for answers on this side of the ball. In points-scored, they are ranked 21st in the league, rather unbefitting for an offense with their firepower. On Sunday, Antonio Brown was huge with 8 catches for 155 yards. The issue has been everyone else. They have the best QB-RB-WR trio with Big Ben, Bell, and Brown. But working in other pieces into this offense has been a challenge. The return of WR Martavis Bryant has been underwhelming at best and word is that he's looking for a trade.

While the offense is often what people cited when discussing the Steelers' prospects this season, the defensive side of the ball could be their saving grace and a is a big part of why they are 4-2, despite an offense that has underachieved. The secondary has been dynamic, with Joe Haden a great preseason addition, along with Artie Burns at the other corner and Mike Mitchell and Sean Davis at safety. The middle is big with the great Ryan Shazier, rising TJ Watt, and Vince Williams, who had two sacks on Sunday. James Harrison also had a sack on Sunday. On the season, the Steelers have given up 17 points a game, an even better stat when considering some of those points were defensive touchdowns.

The Steelers will be looking to continue the positive momentum they established on Sunday. Things were looking ugly for a while after losses to the Bears and the Jaguars and they will be looking to put some distance between them and that feeling. But Cincy is nice and rested after the bye week and on the heels of two straight wins. They have a chance to get to .500 this week, an almost-unfathomable reality when they were sitting at 0-3. And I see them hanging in there on Sunday with the Steelers.

Loot's Prediction to Cover the Point Spread: I'm betting on the Cincinnati Bengals plus 5.5 points. Did you know... that you could be wagering on the Cincinnati vs. Pittsburgh game at discounted odds? There's a better than good chance that you're laying -110 odds (or more) with your book. Stop overpaying TODAY by making the switch to 5Dimes Sportsbook! You will be so glad that you did!

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