NFL fans were treated to an absolute humdinger from the AFC North on Monday Night Football last week, sadly they will not be getting a second helping this time around.
Baltimore and Cleveland served up a sensational shootout, combining for 89 points in what turned out to be a narrow 47-42 win for the Ravens, although the Browns still hold second spot in the division, with the Pittsburgh Steelers of course leading the way.
Mike Tomlin’s men have already booked a play-off spot so the pressure is off in that regard, but they still have designs on the number one seeding going into the post-season.
Having gone 11 games without defeat, the Steelers have now lost two on the bounce to surrender the top ranking in the AFC to the Kansas City Chiefs, but they have the perfect opponent to arrest their mini-slump on Monday Night Football as they travel to the Paul Brown Stadium to take on the Cincinnati Bengals.
Bungling Steelers Offence Still Good Enough
Obviously having suffered back-to-back defeats – surprisingly to the Washington Football Team, not so much against AFC East champions, the Buffalo Bills – something has not been working and it is the offence that has come unstuck.
There are plenty more heralded attacks than the Steelers’, but the six-time Super Bowl winners had been doing enough right to go 11-0, until recently.
Things were perhaps not quite in sync when they ground out their last win against a depleted Ravens side in week 12, winning 19-14 to make it a season double over their big rivals.
A lack of a running game has hindered the Steelers in their last two matches with the pressure on the pass becoming telling – Ben Roethlisberger throwing three interceptions and just four touchdowns as they struggled to put points on the board.
What is very much in Pittsburgh’s favour though is the fact that the Bengals have problems on both sides of the ball, and there is almost no way they can land huge odds of
23/4 on the money line, with the Steelers strong and worthy favourites at
Steelers Can Cover the Handicap
Despite their struggles with the ball, the Steelers will still win this game with plenty in hand as they have enough tools to take care of this match-up, particularly as their defence is one of the best around.
Pittsburgh still lead the NFL in turnover differential despite Big Ben’s recent errant play and their defence will cause plenty of problems for the Bengals, who are joint-second worse off in this stat, having given the ball away 22 times.
The Steelers eased to a 36-10 win over the Bengals in week 10 and there is no reason they can’t win by a similar margin, given the fact first-round draft pick quarterback Joe Burrow has since been ruled out for the year, while his back-up Brandon Allen is also likely to be sidelined by a knee injury.
That leaves Ryan Finley calling the shots and he has thrown more interceptions than touchdowns in his short career so far, while he has also shown a tendency to fumble – factors that play into the Steelers hands.
The Bengals have been restricted to ten points or fewer in four of their last five games with the Steelers looking tempting to cover the 14-point handicap at
10/11, while under 40 points is also worthy of consideration at
25/27, given the visitors’ own problems on offence.
*All odds correct at time of writing.