On Monday Night Football, the Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) will travel to Paul Brown Stadium in Cincinnati, Ohio to take on the Bengals (5-6). This Monday Night Football matchup will kick off at 8:30 PM/ET.
The Steelers are firmly in control of their playoff destiny. They have the best record in the AFC and a showdown with the Patriots in three weeks. If the Steelers win out, they’ll have the number one seed in the AFC playoffs and home-field advantage throughout the playoffs. Even the smallest slip-up down the stretch, however, could derail the Steelers hopes of attaining the number one seed. Facing a hungry Bengals team, the Steelers cannot afford to lose this week.
The Bengals are having an up and down season. Cincinnati has already lost to Pittsburgh early this season, and it wasn’t really close. Of the five Bengals victories this season, their best victory came over the Bills early in the season. Their other four victories came against underperforming teams like Indianapolis, Denver, and Cleveland. Those five victories don’t inspire a lot of confidence in this Bengals squad. The Steelers, however, are divisional foes and that familiarity will make this a closer contest than expected.
The Steelers’ Steel Curtain Defense is back.
According to NFL Stats, the Steelers’ defense rank 4th in yards allowed per game. That’s a huge improvement over their 2016 totals when they ranked 12th in the league. Pittsburgh’s ability to limit opposing offenses to 289.4 yards per game is a huge reason why they’re sitting atop the AFC standings.
What’s even more significant, however, is their ability to limit opposing offenses to 17.5 points per game. According to NFL Stats, the Steelers rank 4th in points per game.
A big reason for their success on defense is their ability to pressure the quarterback. According to NFL Stats, the Steelers rank 2nd in the NFL with 38 sacks. Facing a Bengals squad that’s given up 28 sacks to opposing defenses, expect the Steelers defense to get after Bengal’s quarterback, Andy Dalton all night.
What to make of the Bengals this season?
The Bengals have struggled for most of the season on both sides of the ball. In past seasons, Cincinnati was at their best when their defense set the tone. So far this season, Cincinnati’s defense has played adequately. When playing sub-par competition, the Bengals’ defense played well. When playing potential playoff contenders, however, the Bengals have gotten outplayed.
Outside of a week one drubbing by Baltimore where they were held to zero points, the Bengals haven’t been blown out all year. According to NFL Stats, the Bengals’ defense ranks 13th in yards allowed and 10th in points allowed per game. Facing a Steelers offense that has multiple weapons, expect the Bengals defense to play extremely physical.
The Bengals biggest weakness is their offense. Cincinnati ranks last in the league in terms of yards per game. Last. According to NFL Stats, the Bengals’ offense ranks 25th in terms of points scored per game. Their rushing attack average 75.6 yards per game. That’s the second-worst mark in the league. According to NFL Stats, the Bengals passing attack ranks 27th in the league. The Bengals’ offense is a mess. Andy Dalton hasn’t played great, but he’s adequate. They’re simply an offense that does have a lot of talent outside of A.J. Green.
Bengals vs Steelers Betting Lines
The Steelers dodged a trap game last week against Green Bay. This is not a trap game. The Steelers are by far and away the better team. The Bengals know the Steelers well, and their defense will get after the Steelers’ offensive weapons, but at the end of the day, the Bengals offense won’t do enough to compete in this game.
Play: Steelers -4.5 @ BetOnline.ag