As things shape up, the Bengals find themselves in a must win game for seeding purposes in the AFC. A loss probably has the Bengals settling for the number 3 seed where a win can help them attain the number two or possibly the top overall seed. (Based on what other teams do). Anyway, let's see what the media thinks the outcome will be on Sunday night. The Bengals are currently 2.5 point favorites and the over under is at 42.
|Elliot Harrison - NFL.com||17 - 14||This will be a really great matchup, although it would've been more exciting if Pittsburgh had beaten the Dolphins on Sunday to stay in the AFC wild-card race. If you're looking for something like "Anderson v. Bradshaw" here, forget it. Consider this: The Bengals have not posted 300 passing yards in 23 straight meetings with their division rivals. The Steelers haven't fared much better, as they've gone 15 straight games in the series with 280 passing yards or less. Now, Cincinnati hasn't been able to rush for a touchdown at Heinz Field since 2007, topping 90 yards on the ground there just once in that same time span. Given the fact that Ben Roethlisberger has thrown multiple touchdown passes against Cincy just once since 2008, it's clear we're looking at a close, defensive struggle here. The Bengals, who have only given up one 400-yard offensive game all year, allow the fewest plays of 10-plus yards in the league. So I don't see Big Ben street-balling his way to victory.|
|Don Banks - SI||20 - 17
||After two consecutive losses brought on in part by key plays involving Steelers who had a foot barely in bounds and a foot barely out of bounds, the end result is that Pittsburgh, rather fittingly, will watch the playoffs from the sidelines for a second consecutive year. But not the Bengals. They're going to make the postseason for a franchise record third year in a row, and this time they can't possibly lose at Houston in the first round. Cincy will clinch a playoff berth with a Dolphins loss to New England and a victory over the Steelers, and the AFC North will belong to the Bengals for the first time since 2009 with a defeat of Pittsburgh combined with a Ravens loss to Detroit on Monday night.|
|Pete Prisco - CBS||
||26 - 20||These two rivals get together with the Bengals in command of the division and the Steelers fighting for their lives. The Bengals come in with the better defense, which you don't expect. The Steelers are 24th against the run and that shows up in this one. Bengals keep rolling.|
|Coley Harvey - ESPN||17 - 16||This will go down as one of the best games in an always entertaining rivalry. Cincinnati's defense, though, is just too good. Bernard will run wild again.|
|Scott Brown - ESPN||27 - 24||The Steelers will summon a strong effort. But just like coach Mike Tomlin at the end of the Dolphins game, I don't trust the defense. Cincinnati takes a big step toward an outright AFC North title as well as a season sweep of the Steelers for the first time since 2009.|
|Greg Cote - Miami Herald||21 - 20||"AAWWK!" carols the Upset Bird. "Deck the halls with Big Ben. Baaawwwk!!" No matter the result here, Cincinnati is likely headed for a third consecutive playoff appearance for first time in club's 46 seasons, and Steelers almost certainly are not. Cincy's defense had its way in teams' first meeting, 20-10, but I still like Pitt as a home 'dog here. Ben Roethlisberger is 14-6 in his career vs. Bengals and 11-0 on TDs/picks in his past four games. Did I mention all four Cincy losses have been on the road? Sunday nighter should be a physical grudge on the frozen tundra. Where's John Facenda's voice when you need it? "Indeed," concurs U-Bird, donning a Lombardi-esque fedora to augment the picture of wintry football. "Pittsbaaawwwk!"|
|Mike Florio - ProFootballTalk||17 - 14||The Bengals roll back into Pittsburgh with the better team and better prospects for the balance of the season and beyond. The bigger question is whether Cincy can finally win in the postseason.|
|Michael David Smith - ProFootballTalk||24 - 17||If Antonio Brown had kept his foot inbounds on the Steelers' wild last play on Sunday, Pittsburgh would be right in the thick of the playoff race and this would be a very big game. Instead, the Steelers are all but eliminated, and the Bengals should cruise toward the AFC North title.|
Then there are the experts that pick the winners without a score projection or a writeup. Some of those are here:
When I ran the simulation at WhatIfSports.com, The Bengals find themselves on the right side of the score board.