|PITTSBURGH STEELERS (10-6)||AFC WC||CINCINNATI BENGALS (12-4)|
|Date:||9 January 2016
|Time:||7:15 PM Central||Stadium:||Paul Brown Stadium|
|TV:||CBS||Radio:||PIT: XM 226, Sirius 83
CIN: XM 82, Sirius 82
National: Sirius/XM 88
|TV Announcers:||Jim Nantz
|Know Thy Foes:||
Behind the Steel Curtain
|Weather:||48 degrees, winds from SE at 5-10 MPH, 40% chance of rain|
|Line:||Cincinnati -1, Over/Under 44.5 (Thanks to the SB Nation Odds page)|
|Chris' Prediction:||Steelers 27, Bengals 24|
|Final Score:||Steelers 18, Bengals 16|
The AFC portion of Wild Card weekend will conclude in Cincinnati with an AFC North throwdown between the #6 seed, the Pittsburgh Steelers, and the #3 seeded division champions, the Cincinnati Bengals.
The Steelers needed a little help to get into the playoffs. . .had the New York Jets taken care of business against the Buffalo Bills last Sunday, the Steelers would be watching this one from their couches. But they're here, and they've gotten the label of the team that "nobody wants to play" in the AFC. The Steelers' offense is as dangerous as there is in the league, with Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown comprising what might be the best pitch-and-catch duo in the league. The Steelers will be without running back DeAngelo Williams in this one, as he was injured last weekend against Cleveland. The Pittsburgh defense has been solid, but they've had their struggles against the pass, where they're 30th in the NFL, yardage-wise.
Cincinnati got a bit of bad news earlier in the week, as they learned that quarterback Andy Dalton would not be playing in this one. Dalton broke his thumb in the last meeting between these two teams and has not played since. That means the Bengals will be rolling with A.J. McCarron at quarterback, and he's actually played fairly well after getting off to a rough start against Pittsburgh. He's thrown four touchdowns and no interceptions in his three career NFL starts. To win this one, the Bengals will probably need a big performance from their defense, which is #2 in the NFL in scoring, allowing just 17.4 points per game.
It's always hard to predict how things are going to go when divisional rivals get together, particularly in the playoffs. But, if this game turns into a shootout, it's hard to envision the McCarron-led Bengals being able to keep up with Roethlisberger and company. But, hey. . .at least we won't have to spend all off-season hearing about how Andy Dalton can't win in the playoffs, am I right?
The AFC Divisional Round will be set after this game, ladies and gentlemen. If the Bengals win, they will travel to take on the New England Patriots next weekend. If the Steelers win, they will get a trip to take on Peyton Manning and the top-seeded Denver Broncos. Enjoy the game, everyone!