Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
On paper, this is the game of the week and rightly so – divisional foes with high powered offenses should make for great viewing. I would say that these two are fairly evenly matched, but the injuries the Bengals have sustained in the secondary should be a concern for Cincinnati. Most secondaries can’t contain the Steelers trio of WRs and this is why I’ll be backing Pittsburgh to go into Cincinnati and come out with a win.
CBs Adam Jones is unlikely to play, while CB Leon Hall and S George Iloka are listed as questionable as I write this. Dre Kirkpatrick and Josh Shaw (back) are also injured, but are both listed as probable, but not being at 100% isn’t a great recipe against the Steelers’ aerial attack.
In their last 4 games, the Steelers have scored 152 points (average of 38 a game) and one of those games was in Seattle. During those games Pittsburgh’s WRs Antonio Brown, Martavis Bryant and Markus Wheaton have amassed a whopping 1,251 yards and 9 TDs. With QB Ben Roethlisberger throwing them the ball, they are in line for another big outing against the banged up Cincinnati secondary.
This isn’t to discount the Bengals, who have a great offense themselves – scoring 30+ in their last 3 games – and will certainly put up some points against Pittsburgh’s defence, but I just feel they will struggle to hold the Steelers down.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Pittsburgh Steelers to Win at 2.20
San Francisco 49ers at Cleveland Browns
A battle of 1st round QB busts looking to get back on track in Cleveland in this one. For the Browns, they’ve returned to the immature Johnny Manziel with Austin Davis failing to light it up last week and for the 49ers, Blaine Gabbert has actually managed to provide a spark after replacing Colin Kaepernick. It feels strange to say this, but I trust Gabbert considerably more right now and at odds-against, I’ll be backing San Francisco here.
Both of these offenses have struggled mightily this season with the 49ers ranking dead last for points a game (14.8) and the Browns sitting at 30th (18.0), but from what I’ve seen from Gabbert in his 4 starts gives me reason to believe he can exploit a very poor Cleveland defence.
The Browns have allowed 30+ points in five straight games. They rank 31st in points allowed (28.9) and rush yards allowed (136.3), are 29th in total yards (398.8) and 25th in pass yards (262.5) – nasty looking numbers! San Francisco, as their numbers suggest, are not the most dynamic offense but the Ravens were one of those teams who put up 30+ on Cleveland and they were without their top 3 offensive players.
Gabbert has not put up great numbers, but he has had to face two defences who rank in the top 4. His under-rated mobility and accurate passing have provided a boost for the San Francisco offense and I believe he’ll have a nice day against the Browns.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: San Francisco 49ers to Win at 2.20
Buffalo Bills at Philadelphia Eagles
Both of these teams are coming off big wins in terms of their playoff hopes and yet this week all the talk seems to be about Bills RB LeSean McCoy wanting to stick it to his former team and specifically, Eagles Head Coach Chip Kelly. We’ve seen what happens when this Bills teams gets too “up” for a game – penalties, and lots of them. If it wasn’t for this they would be my pick, but I can’t back an undisciplined team. I do believe it will be a bit of an offensive shootout however and so Over 47 Points is my pick.
A lot of this belief comes from how the Bills’ skill position players have been performing of late. QB Tyrod Taylor has thrown for 6 TDs and 0 INTs in his last 2 games and has run for a further TD. The aforementioned McCoy has rushed for over 100 yards in 3 of his last 5 games and hasn’t gone under 70 in those 5. Finally, WR Sammy Watkins has 267 receiving yards and 3 TDs in his last two games.
They should continue these superb performances as they now get to go against an Eagles defence that is giving up 383.4 yards a game (26th in the league) and 25.2 points a game (25th).
On offense, the Eagles have performed poorly most of the season, but they should improve against a Bills defence that is not played brilliantly either – they are 20th in yards allowed per game with 359.7, but the most startling stat is that they’ve given up 101 receptions to slot recievers (2nd in the league).
If the Eagles can exploit this and the Bills continue their recent offensive performances they should contribute to a high points total.
Handicap Betting Recommendation: Over 47 Points at 1.91
Prices correct at the time of writing.
Eastbridge Sports Betting Broker, winners welcome!