The Cincinnati Bengals are favored by seven points. So considering that Cincinnati rarely beats Pittsburgh, and considering that Cincinnati has always had trouble placing the proverbial cleat on their opponent's throat, it wouldn't be surprising if people picked Pittsburgh over Cincinnati... against the spread.
Straight up, not even close.
Every writer at CBSSports.com picked Cincinnati over Pittsburgh this Monday Night. Even the legendary Jake "The Snake" Roberts tabbed the Bengals. The crew at Cincy Jungle picked the Bengals, against the spread, but it's unclear if they were worried about their jobs by picking a team other than Cincinnati.
Don Banks with Sports Illustrated predicts a 24-13 win by the Bengals.
Yes, I did notice that my two Super Bowl picks, the Bengals and Packers, both lost on the road in Week 1, and that statistically speaking that bodes poorly for their chances to still be playing in early February. Nevertheless, both will get to .500 this week at home, with Cincinnati's defense making sure the Steelers' sputtering and injury-depleted offense isn't getting off the mat this week.
When these teams last met in Cincinnati, Pittsburgh won predominantly on the strength of two factors: Jonathan Dwyer rushing for 122 yards on 17 carries in probably the finest game of his Steelers career, and tight end Heath Miller catching six balls, including a touchdown grab in tight coverage. Uh, it's safe to say neither will happen this time around. Dwyer, who was recently cut by the team, just got re-signed, but without injured starting center Maurkice Pouncey, Pittsburgh won't gain 122 rushing yards -- total. And Miller (knee) isn't ready to play yet. The Bengals? They should be fired up after giving away their season opener in Chicago. The Bengals moved the ball effectively against a solid Bears defense (gaining 340 yards and converting seven of their 11 third-down chances), but they turned the ball over three times. Andy Dalton and Co. right the ship this week.
Now go ahead and freak out because everyone is picking the Bengals.