NFL Week 14 Predictions: Cincinnati Is Pittsburgh’s Safe Space

Over the next three weeks the AFC playoff picture will get a lot clearer with a series of games involving the Steelers, Bengals and Broncos playing one another. Buried in that absurdly deep 1 p.m. slate of 11 games is the rematch between Pittsburgh and Cincinnati. You probably knew I would write about this one, because I tend to write about the biggest games. It just so happens that the only other Week 14 game between teams with winning records happened on Thursday night in Arizona, and I already shared 3,000 words on that yesterday. Today I also wrote about QBR and QB stats for 2015 involving Aaron Rodgers, Tom Brady and Cam Newton. I’m trying to stay busy while things are difficult at home right now.

Steelers at Bengals

I think this is one of the craziest stats I know: Marvin Lewis is 2-11 at home against the Steelers in his career, including that infamous playoff loss in the 2005 season. For some reason, the Bengals continue to play much better in Heinz Field than they do at home against their rival. I don’t want to ignore that, and frankly it leans me towards picking the Steelers to get the season split. But I see much better reasons than that for it.

Ben Roethlisberger is not making a return from an MCL sprain this time like he was in Week 8 when he had his worst game of the season. The Bengals are the only team to hold him under 334 yards passing in a game he finished this year, and the two interceptions in the fourth quarter were obviously killers. I’ve warned in the past that Roethlisberger has had some of his worst games against the Bengals, but I like him to rebound this week with the way he has been playing in the last month. The protection is usually solid this season and the receivers are healthy and available with Markus Wheaton starting to come along as a viable option. The running game is a bit hit or miss, but DeAngelo Williams has been quite good at times, making you forget about Le’Veon Bell’s absence. That’s the other difference I see this time. Not only was Roethlisberger making his return in Week 8, but the Steelers had to deal with the blow of losing Bell early in the second quarter of that game, which had an offensive start before the defenses took over and the Bengals pulled out a late 16-10 win.

I feel like the offenses are going to shine in this one and we’ll get a much different game. A.J. Green is a DFS favorite for me this week as few defenses get targeted by the No. 1 WR more than Pittsburgh, and Tyler Eifert is back in the lineup. The Bengals have stomped the Rams and Browns the last two weeks, just as you would expect them to do given the mismatches in team quality. The Bengals are actually first in DVOA right now. This is a very good team playing a big game at home, so of course that will be the measuring stick this week. It’s not in prime time, but it certainly counts a lot with the Bengals pursuing a No. 1 seed. I just think the Steelers can copy a similar formula to what the Cardinals used a few weeks ago and attack this secondary, which has had some recent injuries (Adam Jones is out and Darqueze Dennard went on IR), with the bevy of receivers. That requires Roethlisberger to be on point, but again, I think the prospects of him doing that are much higher this week than they were in Week 8 when his movement looked limited in the pocket. Still, I do not trust the Pittsburgh defense to have a standout game against this talented offense, so the score should be pretty high, but I don’t think the game will have enough possessions for both teams to get into the 30’s.

Final score: Steelers 29, Bengals 26

2015 Week 14 Predictions

I had the Cardinals, but they sure cut it closer than expected against Minnesota in one of the best TNF games you’ll see. Now explain to me why we couldn’t have seen that game on Saturday night? This late in the season you’re either going to get lousy teams in prime time, or if it’s a big game, why play it on four days of rest? Once the college football regular season ends, scrap that TNF noise and move the games to Saturday.

Winners in bold:

  • Saints at Buccaneers
  • Redskins at Bears
  • Seahawks at Ravens
  • Falcons at Panthers
  • Titans at Jets
  • Chargers at Chiefs
  • Steelers at Bengals
  • 49ers at Browns
  • Bills at Eagles
  • Lions at Rams
  • Colts at Jaguars
  • Raiders at Broncos
  • Cowboys at Packers
  • Patriots at Texans
  • Giants at Dolphins

Season Results

  • Week 1: 10-6
  • Week 2: 6-10
  • Week 3: 14-2
  • Week 4: 11-4
  • Week 5: 9-5
  • Week 6: 8-6
  • Week 7: 10-4
  • Week 8: 10-4
  • Week 9: 8-5
  • Week 10: 4-10
  • Week 11: 9-5
  • Week 12: 8-8
  • Week 13: 11-5
  • Season: 118-74 (.615)

I’ll end with an amusing stat.

For all the talk about Brock Osweiler giving the Broncos a deep threat with his arm, the fact is he is 3-of-15 on passes thrown 20+ yards this season.

Do you know which other quarterback started this season 3-of-15 on his 20+ yard passes? Why yes, that would be Peyton Manning.

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