Cincinnati Bengals (2-10) at Pittsburgh Steelers (9-3)
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, Penn., 1 p.m.
Trends: The Bengals are 2-7 against the spread in their last 9 games overall; The over is 7-3-1 in the Steelers last 11 games as a favorite; The road team is 13-4-1 against the spread in the last 18 meetings between these two teams.
Key Injuries: Cincinnati – Out: DB Brandon Ghee. Pittsburgh – Out: DE Aaron Smith, Daniel Sepulveda; Doubtful: T Flozell Adams, TE Heath Miller; Questionable: T Chris Scott; Probable: QB Ben Roethlisberger, TE Matt Spaeth.
What To Look For: It has been a season of trade-offs for the Pittsburgh Steelers. It seems with every big win, they lose another player to injury. Against Miami, it was DE Aaron Smith. Hines Ward went out against Buffalo. Last week, against the Ravens, it was Ben Roethlisberger finishing with a broken nose, which required surgery. That went along well with the ankle injury he was already worrying about.
The good news for Pittsburgh is it plays the rival Cincinnati Bengals this weekend and Cincinnati hasn’t exactly been a world beater, much less a player hurter.
Roethlisberger is expected to be back for the game, despite having surgery on his nose on Monday to correct what the doctor called an injury that made his nose look like “corn flakes”.
The Steelers are looking to protect sole possession of first place and seal up home-field advantage through the playoffs. Cincinnati shouldn’t do much to stand in the way of that.
The defense that has made the Steelers legendary through the years has returned during the team’s current three-game winning streak. They have given up 29 points while allowing opponents to average 260 total yards. They gave up 80 points in their previous three games — a stretch that included losses to New Orleans and New England.
Roethlisberger is 9-4 as a starter against the Bengals, throwing for 163 yards and one touchdown in a 27-21 victory in November. He is just 3-3 at home against Cincinnati, including last season’s 18-12 loss. But he will be without TE Heath Miller, who has 33 receptions for 384 yards and a TD, but will most likely be out with a concussion.
Matt Spaeth would start if Miller is unable to go. Spaeth sustained a concussion against Oakland on Nov. 21 and has missed the last two games.
The Bengals, last year’s AFC North champions in 2009, are trying to end a nine-game losing streak. They have lost every way imaginable, including being drawn offsides last week on 4th down, giving New Orleans a first down and then being scored on during the next play.
Terrell Owens leads the team with 71 catches and is 39 yards shy of reaching 1,000 receiving for the 10th time. But even he can’t figure out how to turn the Bengal luck around.