The Pittsburgh Steelers looked at their best last week against the Atlanta Falcons at Heinz Field. The Steelers punished the Falcons by a score of 41-17, with the defense finally showing up to play football. Their defensive effort had been lackluster up that point, but they did a nice job slowing down a good Atlanta offense. That’s what they are going to need to get from their defense on a weekly basis to overtake teams like the Patriots and Chiefs in the AFC.
With what we’ve seen from them before that Falcons game, they have no hope slowing down either of them. Last week was a good blueprint of how they must play. However, the Steelers haven’t been able to consistently play solid defense since Ryan Shazier got injured. That spinal injury came against the Bengals a season ago when he attempted to go back a tackle.
Shazier was the motor of the Steelers’ defense and when he went out, there was an immediate impact felt across the entire unit. They haven’t seemed to be able to find that extra gear that they had then. Ben Roethlisberger and the offense still have it, so a reasonable enough defense would see them trend up in the AFC.
The Patriots and Chiefs don’t have stellar defenses either. In other words, if one of them wants to take the initiative of improving their defense, that would help out a lot. I don’t have much confidence in the Chiefs figuring it out, but give Bill Belichick a whole season and he will likely be the one to get everything straight. Mike Tomlin? He doesn’t exactly give off the same level of confidence.
The Steelers held the Falcons to just 17 points and Devonta Freeman to 32 yards on the ground. They also forced a fumble for a late score in the 4th quarter to put a cherry on top of the win. On the other side, the Bengals advanced to 4-1 with a win over the Dolphins. They have a recent 36-37 win over the Falcons two weeks ago. Andy Dalton directed a final minute drive to take the lead with only 7 seconds on the clock. Matt Ryan had a field day on the Bengals’ defense, as he passed for 419 yards and 3 touchdowns. We’ll see if they can do better against Ben at home. Head below for our free Steelers vs. Bengals pick below.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals NFL Week 6 Betting Odds:
vs. Bengals -1(-110)
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Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:
There has been drama in Pittsburgh this season, not only with Le’Veon Bell, but Antonio Brown as well. There have been rumors that Bell might return soon, and then there are other rumors that suggest he is almost certainly going to get traded. The most recent report is that the Eagles are showing serious interest in trading for him. That’d give the Eagles a workhorse back that they’ve been missing since LeGarrette Blount signed with the Lions.
As well as James Connor has been holding up for the Steelers, Bell would provide an instant jolt, they can’t deny that much. With that said, the offense has still been performing well. They’re averaging 405 yards per game for 8th in the league. Roethlisberger is averaging 321 yards per game through the air, which puts him in 4th.
Meanwhile, the Bengals are 17th with 367.6 yards per game. You can put this on repeat the past seven years, but Dalton is going to have to be a better quarterback in big games for the Bengals to make it anywhere of significance. He’s typically failed to show up when the team is counting on him the most. His history against the Steelers is no different. The Steelers have beaten the Bengals in six straight games and nine of their last ten meetings. Dalton owns a lackluster record of 3-11 against the Steelers in his career.
In their two meetings last season, the Bengals scored just 34 points in total. They’ve averaged 18 points per game dating back to 2013 against the Steelers. Yeah, the defense has been better in the past in Pittsburgh, but since the Polamalu era came to an end, the focus has been on offense. Without Shazier in December, the Bengals managed just 20 points. Dalton passed for 234 yards and 2 touchdowns in the most recent meeting, a 23-20 loss.
Playing in Cincinnati hasn’t made much of an impact on the Steelers. Note that they are 14-3-2 in their last 19 trips to Cincinnati. The Bengals are on a nice little two-game winning streak, but they run into a team this week who have given them major issues. With a record of 2-2, the Steelers have no time to take this game lightly and have a letdown after pounding the Falcons. I think the Pittsburgh defense gained a little bit of confidence after shutting down Matt Ryan last week. While they won’t be perfect, it’ll likely be enough to allow Roethlisberger to outplay Andy Dalton yet again and a Steelers’ win.