By Charles Jay
Well, it’s another year, and another injury situation in the backfield for the Pittsburgh Steelers, who have now, believe it or not, gone five years since their last football playoff win. There were a lot of people who didn’t necessarily think the Steelers would even be in this position as of a week ago, because they had seemingly blown their opportunity against an injury-riddled Baltimore Ravens squad, losing 20-17 in Week 16. But they took care of business against the Cleveland Browns last Sunday and watched as the New York Jets lost to Rex Ryan and the Buffalo Bills, which put the Steelers in business once again. They will take on the Cincinnati Bengals in a game that will begin at 8:15 PM ET on Saturday at Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati. Vietbet customers will be able to participate in NFL betting even after the opening kickoff, as they place wagers in real-time through the software provided by Live Betting Extra. This is not something you want to miss!
In the NFL betting odds posted on this game by the people at Vietbet, the Steelers are laying points on the road:
Pittsburgh Steelers -2.5 (-120)
Cincinnati Bengals +2.5 (+100)
Over 45.5 points -110
Under 45.5 points -110
Last year, LeVeon Bell, who was having an MVP-level season, got hurt and was unavailable for the playoff game against the Ravens. Pittsburgh found itself way too one-dimensional on offense and went down to defeat. Bell has been missing for quite a while this season, and that was particularly upsetting, since he looked to have gotten himself untracked after serving a brief suspension at the outset. This team went out and acquired DeAngelo Williams, who spent years with the Carolina Panthers, and Williams came through nicely, with 907 yards and 11 touchdowns. But now he has an ankle injury, making them questionable at best for this game. Head coach Mike Tomlin has called his status “day-to-day,” and so Pittsburgh may have to improvise at the position, which will only put added pressure on Ben Roethlisberger.
The Bengals have their own injury questions, along with the speculation that goes along with them. Andy Dalton, the quarterback who was arguably having his best season ever, broke his right thumb against the Steelers a month ago, and he had to be replaced by AJ McCarron. The Steelers won that game 33-20, and of course now there is talk that the Bengals will try their best to get Dalton into the lineup, although it doesn’t seem likely.
For Pittsburgh’s part, it looks like someone named Fitzgerald Toussaint will get most of the responsibility of running back if Williams can’t make it. Toussaint had 18 attempts for 42 yards on the season, so as you can imagine, this team has no idea whether they can depend on him or not. But when you think of it, the Steelers have relied on the arm of Roethlisberger anyway. After all, they have thrown the ball almost 62% of the time this season. The problem is that Roethlisberger has turned it over too many times; he has thrown 16 interceptions, including six in the last three games. Vietbet patrons may have also heard that this week he called out one of his receivers, Martavis Bryant, who has 765 yards and a 15.3-yard average, but has caught only two passes for six yards over the last two games. Roethlisberger knows that if Bryant is producing, it makes Antonio Brown (136 catches, 1834 yards) all the more dangerous.
This offense was third in the league in yards gained per drive, and they only had to punt 32.6% of the time, which was less frequently than any other team in the NFL. Can they protect Big Ben? Well, he was sacked five times in two meetings with the Bengals, in which the Steelers split. But Roethlisberger himself has been sacked only 20 times on the season.
On defense, the Steelers had to make the transition from long-time defensive coordinator Dick LeBeau to his former assistant, Keith Butler, and they had mixed results. Only once in the first eight games of the season did they allow more than 23 points, but they exceeded that total three times over the next eight games. Pittsburgh has allowed 29 touchdown passes, but they have been pretty stingy inside the 20, ranking third in the league in terms of points allowed per red zone appearance. That’s something that might put a little extra pressure on McCarron, who has made only three starts as a pro, all of them against teams using a backup quarterback.
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Written By Charles Jay