The rivalry continues in Pittsburgh tonight, as the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers meet at Heinz Field. This will be the 100th game between the Bengals and Steelers, but it’s certainly not going to be the most important.
The Bengals are one of the worst teams in the league and the Steelers are operating without Ben Roethlisberger. Even with Roethlisberger healthy, the Steelers didn’t figure to be a contender in 2019. There are some people who select the Steelers automatically just because they’re the Steelers, but this was not a team built to go too far.
The Steelers were going into this season with distractions behind them, but the Antonio Brown saga had to be exhausting for Roethlisberger. On top of that, it was two years ago that Big Ben said that he was complementing retiring. I don’t know how he just flips a switch and gets totally motivated to play at a high level. He obviously still wants to play after debating retirement, and said that much after the injury, but his motivation to win is probably not as strong as it used to be.
Roethlisberger is out for the year after going through with elbow surgery. The job falls to backup Mason Rudolph for the remainder of the season. He won the backup over Josh Dobbs in the preseason. Dobbs ended up going to Jacksonville, while Rudolph was given the reins and a golden opportunity. Rudolph has a chance to take this chance and not let go of first-team reps.
The same thing is going on in Carolina right now with Kyle Allen and Cam Newton. If Allen impresses, why sit him on the bench and go back to Newton? Yeah, Roethlisberger and Newton have done a lot for those franchises, especially Roethlisberger who has won Super Bowls, but you can’t think in the past as an NFL franchise. I don’t think Roethlisberger has to worry.
Rudolph looks out of sync with his receivers, maybe something that improves in time this season. Keep in mind that it’s a young receiving core for the Steelers. A veteran quarterback helps younger receivers, but Rudolph is only 24 and is getting his first action as a starting QB in the NFL, so that makes it difficult. Rudolph will have to outperform veteran Andy Dalton in this one. Head below for our free Bengals vs. Steelers pick on Monday Night Football in NFL Week 4.
Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers NFL Week 4 Betting Odds:
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Bengals vs. Steelers Pick:
I really think Mason Rudolph has the tools to be a good quarterback in the NFL. Rudolph has a strong arm and can unload the ball pretty effectively. He just has to work on his decision making. This isn’t the Big 12 any longer at Oklahoma State. Having said that, Rudolph is off to a decent start with 4 touchdown passes and 2 interceptions.
His first starts in the NFL were virtually the same. The Steelers had the training wheels on him in both games and didn’t allow him to explore deep into the playbook. It hurts a guy like James Washington. Washington was expected to breakout in 2019, but that’s going to be harder without Ben.
Rudolph made his first start against the 49ers two weeks ago. The Steelers played hard, but came up with a loss, 24-20. Rudolph passed for just 174 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. It was a similar outing for him the next week against the Seahawks.
Rudolph passed for 112 yards with 2 touchdowns and 1 interception. The Steelers have been feeding James Conner, but it’s been tough sledding and he’s had issues with fumbling. Conner has rushed for 97 yards on 2.9 yards per carry. Pittsburgh enter Monday night 30th in the league with 269.3 yards per game. They’ve also scored just 16.3 points per game, so this offense has been stuck in mud with Rudolph under center.
Andy Dalton has been under fire this season in Cincinnati. He knew going into this season that things weren’t going to be easy. Dalton has been serviceable, with 5 touchdowns and 3 interceptions. His offense is averaging 350.3 yards per game and just 18 points scored on average. Neither defense have been great, but this is a rivalry game and divisional matchup with two anemic offenses.
This series has typically been a low-scoring physical game. Their most recent meeting was a 16-13 final and the UNDER has gone 7-3 in their previous ten games. Dalton and Rudolph likely aren’t going to combine to put up a lot of points in this matchup on Monday night. With that in mind, the UNDER at 45 looks like the play on Monday Night Football.