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Steelers vs. Bengals Pick – NFL Week 2

Note to self: never bet against the Seahawks at home or make it a no play. Yes, I am aware of their huge home field advantage at home, but thought the Seahawks were going to take one of their only losses at home last night. The 49ers doomed themselves with stupid penalties and sloppy play. It appears after last night that the Seahawks may very well go undefeated at home and be flirting with an opportunity to have home field advantage throughout the whole playoffs. Even with that loss, though, I had a good day, finishing 3-1. I posted the two overs on the blog here and made a late play on the Ravens.

Moving on to Monday, where the script has flipped between these two squads. It was once the Steelers that came into this game around seven point favorites, but with the emergence of the Bengals, and the dismal play of the Steelers, Cincinnati comes in as the favorites. The Steelers always get up for primetime games, so we’ll see if they can do it again on the road against the Bengals. The Bengals suffered a loss of their own in week 1, losing to the Bears, 24-21, on the road.

Steelers vs. Bengals Betting Odds:

Spread:
Pittsburgh Steelers +7 (-120)
@Cincinnati Bengals -7 (+100)

Total:
Over 41 (-110)
Under 41 (-110)

Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv

Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:

Even after just one week of play, there are plenty of people that are giving up on the Pittsburgh Steelers. The Steelers parlayed an awful preseason into a disappointing week 1 loss to the Tennessee Titans. There are people that don’t put much stock into the preseason, but the Steelers didn’t look much better in week 1 than they did in the preseason. Of course Pittsburgh has never really been a team to rely heavily on their offense. The defense has made them a perennial powerhouse in this league for decades now. However, the offense has always been average to a little above average. This season it has been hard to justify calling the Steelers an average offense, though. If things weren’t bad enough, the Steelers lost center Maurkice Pouncey last week against the Titans. Say what you want, but the center is one of the most important players not only on the offensive line, but on the entire offense. Given the talent of Pouncey, this is a big loss for the Steelers up front. The running game has been non-existent, and Ben Roethlisberger has been running for his life thus far this season. The departure of Mike Wallace leaves Antonio Brown as their number one option. Brown is a decent receiver, but I don’t think he has the talent to be deemed the first receiver.

While the offense is in shambles, the Steelers still have a vaunted defense which will have to carry them if they want to at least have a chance at making the playoffs this season. They will need to do it without the ageless one, linebacker Larry Foote, as he will need to sit out as well due to an injury. Foote is a shell of his former self, so this injury doesn’t nearly have the same impact as Pouncey’s does. The Steelers, believe it or not, will have Troy Polamalu healthy for Monday night. Polamalu shined in week 1, racking up 6 tackles in the losing effort. It was a good sign for Polamalu though, that looked better than ever. The defense still has some talented options on it, but as long as Dick LeBeau is calling plays on defense, then the Steelers are always going to be a threat to offenses. He is one of, if not the best defensive coordinator in the NFL. Even with injuries last season to some marquee players, the Steelers still managed to rank 1st in total team defense, 1st against the pass, and 2nd against the run.

The Steelers’ defense will be tested against a Bengals’ offense that is always a threat with A.J. Green and Andy Dalton hooking up. Dalton is what he is, he’s an average quarterback, but teaming up with Green makes him look better than he really is. Throwing it up to Green and watching him go get the ball is a staple in this offense. Green already asserted himself this year pretty well, snatching 9 balls for 162 yards and 2 touchdowns a week ago against the Bears. The matchup to keep an eye on tonight is Green vs. Ike Taylor. If Taylor can play decently against Green then this will be a close game throughout. The passing game was good last week, but I think the running game will struggle this season with BenJarvus Green-Ellis as the number one guy in the backfield. I expect the Bengals to try and get the running game going early, but will be shut down routinely, putting them into many 3rd-and-long situations.

All the attention has been on A.J. Green of the Bengals, but they also possess one of the best defenses in the NFL, too. I would say that the Bengals’ defense is fairly underrated, as you never really hear much about this group. In 2012 they ranked 6th in total team defense, and only allowed an average of 20 points per game. This unit is equally good against the pass and run, where they ranked 7th and 12th in that regard. The Bengals are easier to exploit on the ground as you can see. However, I don’t see how the Steelers are going to be able to take advantage of it with this offensive line. The Steelers have one of the worst lines in the league, and I don’t see it getting any better on the road against a divisional rival.

There are several positions to take in this game. I think if you take a look around at other handicappers picks you will find a 50/50 split on this spread. If you’re looking at personnel alone, I just don’t see how the Steelers can cover this number, but they still do have a solid defense and it is a primetime game, where they notoriously shine. Both defenses have seen plenty of each other in the past, so I don’t think there will be many surprises of what is to come Monday night. Dick LeBeau will have a solid game plan to try and slow A.J. Green down, I would bet that. Conversely, the Steelers’ offensive line is just too banged up for me to take their offensive seriously at this point. The Titans had Big Ben running all over the place last week, so I can imagine what is going to happen on the road against the Bengals. The Steelers are good in primetime games, yes, but I just don’t see their offensive line getting any better. The loss of Pouncey is a big one. I’ll make a play on the under, as I foresee a low scoring game of football tonight on MNF.

PICK : UNDER 41 (-110)