Week 13 of the NFL concludes in Cincinnati, as the Bengals and Steelers meet on Monday Night Football. The Steelers are hoping to keep pace with the New England Patriots in the AFC, while the Bengals just hope to get into the wildcard picture. With a record of 8-2 in the AFC, the Steelers are in firm control of the division. The Bengals can forget about catching Pittsburgh, but they can still find a wildcard with a strong finish to the season. At 5-6, it’s not going to be easy for them, though. Meanwhile, with a win over the Lions yesterday, the Ravens are a couple games back of the Steelers. Their offense suddenly came to life in a 44-20 winning effort. The Ravens were also on the right side of a critical injury, as Matthew Stafford went out, giving way to backup Jake Rudock.
The Steelers may not have their offensive catalyst, Antonio Brown, on Monday night. Brown heads into Monday evening questionable, as he battles a hurt toe. For a wide receiver, a bad toe can impact what they want to do significantly. The worst part of an injury to the toe or foot is that it gets worse as the game progresses. At the moment, there hasn’t been a clear answer released as to whether he is going to play or not. Being called questionable doesn’t really help us any, because that usually means 50-50 these days. In other words, be sure to check on his status. If you have him locked into your fantasy lineup already, my sympathies if he doesn’t start.
For the most part, the Bengals’ offense has looked like they’ve been playing injured this season. Tyler Eifert out is certainly a blow, as his huge stature provides a massive target for Andy Dalton. However, Dalton still has A.J. Green to throw it up to. It isn’t like the cupboard is completely bare in Cincinnati. The Bengals have suffered from an anemic running game, though. They drafted Joe Mixon this past draft, but he’s only a 21-year-old and will go through growing pains. Cincinnati ran the back effectively against the Browns last week, as Mixon ran for 114 yards on 23 carries. It was the biggest day of his young career. The offensive line had a great day at the office. They will have a bigger challenge on Monday Night Football against the Steelers, though. Head below for our free Steelers vs. Bengals pick on MNF.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds:
vs. Bengals +6(-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:
The Steelers were exposed last week by Brett Hundley of all quarterbacks. Hundley played the best game of his career, as the Packers went on the road and almost won as 14-point underdogs. The Packers were easily able to beat the spread, only losing 31-28. The Steelers and Bengals were both supposed to go on a romp over their opponents last week.
The Bengals took care of the hapless Browns, 30-16. While it hasn’t been an impressive year for Andy Dalton and the Bengals’ offense, the defense has been playing well. They are allowing 19.5 points per game, and have been particularly strong at defending the pass. The Bengals are 5th in the NFL, allowing an average of 203.8 passing yards per game.
They’re on a nice little run with a couple of wins in a row. The Bengals could really generate some momentum if they can knock off the Steelers tonight. Andy Dalton must be able to take advantage of a secondary which will be down safety Mike Mitchell and cornerback Joe Haden again. There were busted coverages galore against the Packers last week, and I’d like to think they wouldn’t have happened as frequently with Mitchell on the field. The Steelers will be getting JuJu Smith-Schuster back on offense, though. Especially if Antonio Brown can’t play, that’s significant for Pittsburgh.
Dalton has passed for 18 touchdowns and 8 interceptions. His season hasn’t been as bad as one would think. He just got off to a really bad start, along with the rest of the offense, and they’ve just been starting to look like a competent offense in the last few weeks. If only they could get their running game going, everything else would fall into place. Joe Mixon will be expected to take on a larger role next season. The Steelers are 6th in the NFL against the run, so expect more of a push back this week than what transpired against the Browns in Week 12.
This is the second meeting between the Steelers and Bengals this year, the first resulting in a 29-14 win for the Steelers at Heinz Field. Pittsburgh has dominated this series with five straight wins over the Bengals, and 8-2 in their last ten meetings. The Bengals did keep it competitive in their last two in Cincinnati, with final scores of 24-20 and 18-16. Also, the Steelers have allowed inferior competition to hang around with them on the road.
Note that they beat the Colts 20-17, Lions 20-15, Chiefs 19-13, and lost to the Bears in overtime, 23-17. Lastly, the Browns kept the Steelers within 3 points in Week 1, a 21-18 score in Cleveland. There’s only been one game, which came against the Ravens, where they’ve won by more than 6 points on the road. Now we’re getting a questionable Antonio Brown and no Mike Mitchell at safety on Monday night against a divisional rival. I think the Bengals keep this one a competitive game. They should be up to play against the Steelers. As I write this, the Bengals are getting 6 points over at Bovada. I’d take those points in what should be a competitive game on Monday Night Football.
PICK: BENGALS +6 (-110)