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PITTSBURGH, PA - OCTOBER 07: Antonio Brown #84 of the Pittsburgh Steelers celebrates with James Conner #30 after a 9 yard touchdown reception in the second half during the game against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field on October 7, 2018 in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania. (Photo by Justin K. Aller/Getty Images)

Justin K. Aller/Getty Images

The Steelers own a six-game winning streak in the rivalry with the Bengals, going 4-1-1 against the spread in the process. But Pittsburgh is struggling out of the gate this season, while Cincinnati is streaking. Who’s the smart bet for Sunday’s AFC North showdown at Paul Brown Stadium?

NFL point spread: The Bengals opened as three-point favorites; the total was 54.5 early in the week, according to sportsbooks monitored by OddsShark. (Line updates and matchup report)

NFL betting pick, via OddsShark computer: 31.4-24.2 Bengals (NFL picks on every game)

Check out the OddsShark podcast on iTunes or Spotify or at OddsShark.libsyn.com for more odds information, betting picks and a breakdown of this week’s top sports betting news.

Why the Steelers can cover the spread

The Steelers just bounced back from that home loss to Baltimore two weeks ago to beat Atlanta last week 41-17. Pittsburgh drove the opening possession of the game 78 yards to a touchdown, led 13-0 after one quarter, then let the Falcons get within 13-10 at the half. But the Steelers scored the first two touchdowns out of the locker room and added the last two scores for the blowout and the cover as 3.5-point favorites.

On the day Pittsburgh out-gained Atlanta 381-324 and won the ground battle 131-62, as James Conner, playing in place of holdout Le’Veon Bell, accounted for 185 yards from scrimmage and scored twice. The Steelers also blocked a punt, leading to one touchdown, recorded six sacks and capped the victory with a sack/fumble recovery for a score.

Pittsburgh is now 2-2-1 overall but 0-1-1 in AFC North play. So the Steelers could really use a divisional win.

Why the Bengals can cover the spread

The Bengals are 4-1 overall and 4-1 ATS this season, following their 27-17 come-from-behind victory over Miami last week. Cincinnati started badly; an interception in the Dolphins’ red zone on the Bengals first possession of the game, a blocked field goal and a 71-yard Miami punt return for a score created a 17-0 deficit. But Cincinnati pulled to within 17-10 heading into the fourth quarter, then scored two defensive touchdowns for the win and the unlikely cover as a six-point favorite.

The Bengals out-gained the Dolphins 332-297 and won the turnover battle 3-1. And the Cincinnati defense never actually let Miami penetrate its red zone; the Dolphins scored on a 22-yard pass play, but that was their deepest incursion all day.

Running back Joe Mixon, back after missing two games with a knee injury, accounted for 115 yards from scrimmage and scored once.

Two weeks ago the Bengals scored a touchdown with seven seconds left to win at Atlanta 37-36. At 4-1 Cincinnati leads the AFC North by a game and a tie-breaker over second-place Baltimore.

Smart betting pick

Pittsburgh swept this season series last year by scores of 29-14 and 23-20. But the Steelers are not the same team right now compared to then, while the Bengals are better. Smart money here sides with Cincinnati.

NFL betting trends

The total has gone over in the Bengals’ last five games vs divisional opponents.

The total has gone over in six of the Steelers’ last seven games. (Avg combined score: 59.29)

The Steelers are 1-6 ATS in their last seven games in the early afternoon.

All NFL odds and betting trends according to Bleacher Report’s official odds partner, OddsShark. Check out OddsShark on Twitter and Instagram or head to YouTube for more betting picks and analysis on this week’s top games. You can also download the free odds tracker app.

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