What is there to say about the Pittsburgh Steelers? The Steelers at 2-3, currently sit on the outside looking in of the AFC North. The Steelers latest disappointment was last week against the Tennessee Titans on Thursday night football. They ultimately ended up losing the contest 26-23. They’ll be on the road again for another primetime matchup against the Cincinnati Bengals in week 7. The Steelers need to find an identity, quickly. Of course defense and smash mouth football is what comes to mind when you think of the Steelers, but this season has been a bit of a mystery. Rashard Mendenhall has been injured throughout the season, so the running game has been abysmal. All the Steelers have had to rely on is Big Ben and the passing game. That hasn’t been particularly good either, though. Conversely, the Bengals expected big things out of Andy Dalton after a productive rookie campaign. Things haven’t really developed yet for the Bengals and Dalton, but they would get a huge boost with a win over the Steelers on SNF.
I think the status of this Bengals team is currently up in the air. They have looked great at times and looked like a bottom feeder in other spots. The Bengals relied on their defense to make it the playoffs last season, this season has certainly been a mixed bag. While they rank in the middle of the pack at 15th, they are 2nd in the league in sacks. In this regard, they do know how to force pressure up front and get in opposing quarterbacks faces. Nevertheless, if they want to make another playoff run the Bengals are going to need a complete effort in all facets of the game.
The offense, same as the defense, is another mixed bag. They look like a juggernaut one week and completely lost the next. Dalton is on pace for another decent year, currently at 1,726 passing yards and 12 touchdowns. He unfortunately has turned the ball over off of 9 interceptions, however. The Bengals went out and acquired former Patriots’ running back BenJarvus Green-Ellis in the offseason. Green-Ellis has been decent, but the Bengals definitely expected a little more out of him when they spent money on him. He has failed to average 4 yards a carry since week 1, so that may not bode well against a Steelers defense that limits teams to 95 yards per game (9th).
The Steelers defense isn’t what it used to be, but they can still pack a punch. Part of the problem is the fact they can’t escape father time. Several of former key cogs such as Troy Polamalu and James Harrison have slowed down significantly because of age. They have either been watching from the sidelines, or playing with nagging injuries. In week 7 the injury report keeps growing for the Steelers on the offensive and defensive side of the ball. Running backs Rashard Mendenhall, Isaac Redman will be absent. Along with Polamalu, offensive lineman Marcus Gilbert, and center Maurkice Pouncey are all unlikely to play. Not to mention Ben Roethlisberger reinjured the same foot he broke two years ago in practice. The Steelers are certainly limping into this one.
Steelers vs. Bengals Spread and Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Steelers -1.5 (-110)
@Cincinnati Bengals +1.5 (-110)
Betting odds provided by Bovada.lv
Steelers vs. Bengals Pick:
I feel confident in saying that this is the worst Steelers team of the last decade. It really isn’t an issue of talent, but when a team can’t keep their best players on the field then problems arise. The Steelers are a team that is getting older and seemingly can’t avoid the injury bug. They will be without three starting offensive lineman, along with Roethlisberger sporting a taped ankle. Mendenhall will be absent once again, with his backup Isaac Redman watching from the sidelines as well.
I think this is an excellent opportunity for the Bengals in this respect. The only thing I really think the Steelers have going for them is their name. Don’t be fooled, though, this is a team that has lost to some below average teams already (Raiders and Titans) and the Bengals might be added to that list. Take the Bengals in a game that should feel like a marquee victory for the franchise in primetime with the country watching.
PICK = Bengals +1.5