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November 27, 2014

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sports betting:

Week 16 NFL picks against the spread for the Sun’s handicapping contest

Sports books like Steelers to take control of final AFC playoff spot

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ASSOCIATED PRESS

New York Giants quarterback Eli Manning (10) is pursued by Cincinnati Bengals defensive tackle Geno Atkins in the second half of an NFL football game, Sunday, Nov. 11, 2012, in Cincinnati.

Sun's NFL betting game of Week 16

What's the play in Bengals at Steelers?
Bengals +3.5 — 53.8%
Steelers -3.5 — 46.2%

This poll is closed, see Full Results »

Note: This is not a scientific poll. The results reflect only the opinions of those who chose to participate.

For the third time in four years, the Pittsburgh Steelers will end the regular season with a losing record against the spread.

With a 5-8-1 mark versus the Las Vegas number, it’s too late for Pittsburgh to salvage dedicated backers’ bankrolls. But, luckily for the Steelers, they still have a golden opportunity to save their own season.

Pittsburgh (7-7) hosts Cincinnati (8-6 straight-up, 7-6-1 against the spread) as a 3.5-point favorite in what’s close to a playoff game for the final spot in the AFC’s postseason.

If the Bengals win, they would clinch at least a wild-card berth with a chance to snag the AFC North divisional title from the Baltimore Ravens. If the Steelers win, they would only need to beat the Cleveland Browns next week or have the Bengals and Dolphins lose to get into the playoffs.

But Pittsburgh could fill a prescription pad full of recent maladies, which include a hobbled and frustrated Ben Roethlisberger.

The two-time Super Bowl-winning quarterback hasn’t been able to snap the Steelers out of their slide since returning from a rib injury two weeks ago as they lost as favorites to both the San Diego Chargers and Dallas Cowboys.

Oddsmakers may value Roethlisberger as one of the most important players in the league, but “Big Ben” can’t make up for an offensive line that’s in shambles and a defense that’s uncharacteristically regressing.

The Steelers are 1-5 against the spread in the past six weeks. The Bengals have gone 5-1 in the same span.

This weekend’s spread indicates sports books continue to have the Steelers higher than the Bengals in their power rankings, but other respected ratings systems beg to differ.

Football Outsiders’ DVOA ratings, for example, put the Bengals at seventh in the NFL with the Steelers lagging far behind in 15th.

Cincinnati’s defense is doing the opposite of Pittsburgh’s: It’s getting remarkably better as the season progresses. Geno Atkins has separated himself as a star for years to come, as his 10.5 sacks are four more than any other defensive tackle in the league.

Safeties Reggie Nelson and Chris Crocker have turned the secondary into a strength after it looked like a liability earlier in the year.

Series history hints that none of the improvements may matter. Under coach Mike Tomlin, Pittsburgh is a staggering 9-2 both straight-up and against the spread against Cincinnati.

Roethlisberger is 13-4-1 against the spread when starting against the Bengals. That includes a 24-17 victory at Cincinnati as 1-point favorites during Week Seven this year. The Steelers held Andy Dalton to 105 passing yards and A.J. Green to eight receiving yards, both season lows.

Two of the three members of the Sun’s handicapping contest picked the Steelers to prolong their supremacy over the Bengals. One of them took the points with the Bengals.

Find all of the Week 16 picks below. Games are listed in order of kickoff time.

 

Case Keefer

Record: 47-42-1 (4-2 last week)

Steelers -3.5 vs. Bengals

Bills +4.5 at Dolphins

Vikings vs. Texans under 44.5

Saints vs. Cowboys over 51.5

Browns +13 at Broncos

Ravens +2.5 vs. Giants

 

Taylor Bern

Record: 45-42-3 (4-2 last week)

Colts -7 at Chiefs

Bengals +3.5 at Steelers

Giants -2.5 at Ravens

Buccaneers -3 vs. Rams

Bears -5.5 at Cardinals

49ers pick’em at Seahawks

 

Ray Brewer

Record: 44-45-1 (3-3 last week)

Steelers -3.5 vs. Bengals

Chiefs +7 vs. Colts

Dolphins -4.5 vs. Bills

Vikings vs. Texans over 44.5

Cardinals +5.5 vs. Bears

49ers pick’em at Seahawks

Case Keefer can be reached at 948-2790 or [email protected]. Follow Case on Twitter at twitter.com/casekeefer.

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