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Steelers vs. Bengals 2014 picks and predictions: Experts split on AFC North showdown

An important game in the AFC North happens Sunday.

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The Cincinnati Bengals have rebounded from their awful October to reclaim the lead in the AFC North. They face a critical game for maintaining that lead this week when the Pittsburgh Steelers come to town.

Pittsburgh's season has been the tale of two teams. Early in the year (and again over the past three weeks), the Steelers have played like an old, broken-down squad that will wilt under the lights. However, for a three-week stretch in late October to early November, Pittsburgh knocked around opponents, dishing out 124 points while yielding only 80. The question moving forward is which is the Steelers' true identity. It doesn't help matters that Ben Roethlisberger knocked his throwing hand on a Saints defender last week and had to deny suffering a broken wrist.

As for the Bengals, they've won three in a row and are beginning to look like a playoff team again. The defense has allowed just 36 points over the previous three games, but the main issue seems to be the play of Andy Dalton. He's thrown the same number of touchdowns as interceptions (13) this season, and is in danger of dropping below 7 yards per pass attempt. If Dalton continues to struggle, Cincinnati will likely be an early-round playoff exit if the team even makes it that far.

The experts are divided on which team to choose on Sunday. ESPN slightly favors Cincinnati by a 7-6 margin while CBS Sports' eight-man panel is slanted more toward the Bengals with only two picking against them.

CBS Sports senior writer Pete Prisco also sided with the home team, saying this about the game:

The Steelers will be playing for their season here. They have to win this game. But the Bengals have really come together on defense, and the Steelers are struggling on that side of the ball. That's the difference. Bengals take it.

Here at SB Nation, our panel is evenly split at 4-4.

Ryan Van Bibber Stephen White Joel Thorman David Fucillo Danny Kelly PFT Commenter Matt Ufford OddsShark Computer


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