Monday Night Football in Week 15 features a matchup between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium. The Steelers are looking for a bounce-back spot after dropping back-to-back games against Washington and the Buffalo Bills. After suffering their first loss of the season, the Steelers didn’t get a creampuff matchup the following week to dust themselves off with. That didn’t happen. The Steelers were handed a very good Bills team, and they didn’t show up in a 25-16 loss.
If you recall, there were members of the Steelers, most notably Eric Ebron, who wasn’t happy with the scheduling change after the Ravens had their Covid-19 outbreak in the locker room. Did that have something to do with their frustrations recently? You would think after losing against Washington that would have woke them up, though. The Steelers have no more excuses on Monday night in a rivalry game against the Cincinnati Bengals.
People are already getting a little nervous regarding the Steelers, and if they are a no show on Monday night in primetime, alarm bells are going to be going off in Steelers Nation. At the end of the day, though, this is a 11-2 Steelers team and they’re going to the playoffs. Perhaps they got their worst out of the way at the perfect time? If the Steelers blow the doors off the Bengals, the narrative will suddenly change again. That’s just how recency bias works in sports with the public.
The Bengals have been without rookie Joe Burrow since a knee injury against Washington on November 22. The good news is that his surgery to repair an ACL and MCL tear went smoothly, according to the surgeon. With Burrow recovering from knee surgery, the Bengals have been giving former Arkansas quarterback, Brandon Allen, a chance to impress in a starting role. However, Ryan Finley will get the greenlight on Monday night with Allen ruled out because of a knee injury. Finley is the third-team quarterback. The Steelers must take advantage of the situation and get some of their mojo back tonight. Head below for our free Steelers vs. Bengals props for December 21, 2020.
— Pittsburgh Steelers (@steelers) December 21, 2020
Ryan Finley Passing Yards
The Bengals are running out of options at quarterback. The Joe Burrow injury really put a damper on this season for the Bengals, and now they’re down to their third-team QB on Monday night. Brandon Allen wasn’t a solid option to begin with, but he’s certainly better than Ryan Finley. Finley has spent two years in the NFL. The Bengals drafted him as a developmental quarterback with the potential to breakout into a starter.
In three games last season, Finley passed for 2 touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 47.1% completions. Finley has seen action in four games this season. Not much has appeared to change with Finley. It’s been more of the same for the former NC State quarterback. The 25-year-old has passed for no touchdowns and 2 interceptions on 52.6% completions in 2020. He appeared for seven pass attempts against the Dolphins two weeks ago, and connected on six for 40 yards and an interception.
I’m not expecting anything too exotic from Finley on Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium. Expect them to lean heavily on the run game. Even if Allen was playing, they’d likely do the same on the ground. The Steelers have one of the better secondary’s in the NFL and Finley likely isn’t going to want to go there. They’ve conceded just 202.2 passing yards per game for third in the NFL. I anticipate Finley struggling to find consistency in this one. He likely goes UNDER this total.
Ryan Finley Rushing Yards
This prop ties into what I noted above regarding the Steelers’ secondary. Expect the Steelers’ defense to give Finley all kinds of problems when he drops back. After two straight losses, you have to believe that the Steelers are going to have some motivation tonight as well. Finley is likely going to have to use his legs at times. He’s not a big runner, but certainly has the ability to wiggle his way out of the pocket and pick up some yards.
In three starts and an appearance off the bench last year, Finley gained 77 yards on 10 attempts for 7.7 yards per carry. He will be making his first start of 2020 tonight. Finley has appeared in four games in a relief role. On one attempt, Finley gained 19 yards rushing. Expect him to need to take off and run more than once on Monday night. With the Steelers doing a fine job in the secondary, Finley will likely run for what he can get two or three times, which should be enough to go OVER this total.
James Washington Receiving Yards
James Washington has been receiving more targets recently after falling out of favor in the Steelers’ offense. The breakout of Chase Claypool promoted a lesser role for Washington with the Steelers. This coming after Washington had a productive campaign as a sophomore in 2019. He caught 44 receptions for 735 yards and 3 touchdowns.
Roethlisberger felt comfortable with the 23-year-old, and he saw plenty of targets. Going into Week 15, Washington has been targeted 48 times compared to 80 last year. Having said that, Washington has been coming on of late, and he’s played more of a role in the red zone. Washington has hauled in 5 touchdowns, so a couple of more than last year.
He caught 2 receptions for 80 yards and a touchdown against Washington two weeks ago. That was a season-high, and his best performance since catching 4 receptions and 68 yards and 1 touchdown against the Browns in November. Washington was targeted six times last week against the Bills, catching 3 receptions for 29 yards and a touchdown. I feel comfortable backing Washington to record more than 23 yards on Monday night.