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Week 16 NFL Picks: Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: December 23rd 2012

December 22nd, 2012

Week 16 NFL Picks: December 23rd 2012
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers
Pick: Pittsburgh -3
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Playoff positions are on the line Sunday in Pittsburgh when the Bengals take on the Steelers in the second of their two matchups this season.

It is do or die for the Steelers. Pittsburgh lost in overtime at Dallas last week which was its second straight loss as well as its fourth loss in five games. The Steelers dropped to 7-7 overall but they still control their own destiny. If they close the season at 2-0, they are in the playoffs and even if they go 1-1 they could still make it in however they cannot lose this game as they will be eliminated with a defeat. The division title is still a possibility but Pittsburgh needs help from Baltimore as well.

The Bengals are currently in the sixth position and a win here and they clinch a playoff berth. A loss though would be a killer as they would have to defeat Baltimore next week as well as have Cleveland upset Pittsburgh. Winning here will not be easy though as Cincinnati has dropped five straight meetings against the Steelers including two blowout losses in Pittsburgh. The Bengals are playing well with a 5-1 record over their last six games but now the pressure really mounts.

The Pittsburgh defense is ranked number one overall in the NFL, allowing just 273.3 ypg on the season. The Steelers allowed a season high 415 yards against the Cowboys last week after allowing fewer than 300 yards in eight straight games. That means it is bounceback time for that unit. Bengals quarterback Andy Dalton has not had success in his short career against Pittsburgh and he has a 72.0 rating with three touchdowns and three interceptions in December. Purchase Matt Fargo’s premium week 16 NFL picks above on our premium sports picks page at Accuwager.com

Offensively, the Steelers need to commit to the running game which has not been very effective of late. The good news for the Steelers is they ran for more rushing yards than they have all season when they piled up 167 in a 24-17 victory at Cincinnati in the first meeting. The Bengals have improved their rushing defense but getting the run going early will be huge as Ben Roethlisberger will be able to set up play action and that is where he thrives the most even if he gets taken out of the pocket.

The Steelers have not lost three straight games since 2009 and Roethlisberger has never lost three in a row. Pittsburgh is 8-1 ATS in its last nine home games after one or more consecutive losses against the spread and it falls into a great contrarian situation where we play against road teams after a win by 10 or more points going up against an opponent after a playing a game where 50 total points or more were scored. This situation is 118-73 ATS (61.8 percent) over the last 10 seasons. Play (110) Pittsburgh Steelers