Two weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2 SU; 8-5 ATS) were the lone unbeaten team in the NFL, but now have lost two games in a row and currently find themselves having slipped to the AFC’s No. 2 seed and out of position to receive the first-round bye. Pittsburgh still leads the AFC North and should be able to clinch the division Monday night with a victory on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1 SU; 7-5-1 ATS), who are just playing out the string.
After back-to-back losses against Washington and at Buffalo, the Bengals should be a welcome sight for the Steelers. In Week 11, Pittsburgh pounded Cincinnati in a 36-10 blowout as 6.5-point favorites. Monday, the Steelers are laying 14 to 14.5 against a Bengals team that will be starting its third quarterback of the season, Ryan Finley. Finley has started in the NFL before (three in 2019) but has not seen much success, completing only 47.1 percent of his throws for 474 yards with two touchdown passes against two interceptions. Finley also lost three fumbles in his three starts. With Brandon Allen listed as the starter, the Bengals were 12.5-point underdogs but the adjustment for Finley is around 1.5 to two points.
It is likely to be tough sledding for Finley and the Bengals offense against the Steelers’ third-ranked overall defense (303.1 ypg) that is also giving up the fewest points in the league (18.2 ppg). Pittsburgh’s defense has carried the club all season. Entering Week 15 it led the league in sacks with 45 and in takeaways with 25 including two fumbles in the Week 11 meeting vs. Cincinnati. The Bengals offense has accumulated just 40 points in the last four games since Joe Burrow was lost for the season with a knee injury.
The offense is what has caused the Steelers to slip to the current No. 2 seed. The defense could only mask so much for the league’s 23rd-ranked overall offense (335.5 ypg) that ranks second-to-last in the league in rushing (89.1 ypg) and starting running back James Conner is questionable with a quad injury. Ben Roethlisberger looked as if he was starting to show some signs of age in last Sunday night’s loss at Buffalo. The offense has had difficulty generating passing plays down the field and it has had to rely on a lot of underneath and run-after-catch yardage.
The total opened 41.5 and has since dipped to 40. The Steelers are 5-0-1 to the Under in their last six games as a favorite while the Bengals are on a 4-0-1 Under run over the course of their last five games where they have averaged a paltry 10 ppg. One should not expect that the Bengals will be able to generate much offense here, but perhaps the Steelers offense can get right in this spot.
Judging by the various contest entries, including in the Circa Sports Million II, there is not that much faith in the Bengals as many bettors, both professional and casual, have deemed them to be untouchable. Cincinnati had the least number of selections for any team in this week’s contest. However, bettors were not necessarily rushing to lay double digits on the road with Pittsburgh as the line barely budged all week and was strictly adjusted for the Bengals quarterback change. While “Monday Night Football” will always receive betting action, this game could have one of the lowest handles of the season.