Steelers vs. Bengals Odds & Picks: How To Bet On Pittsburgh Maintaining Perfect Record
Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: James Conner, Ben Roethlisberger
Steelers vs. Bengals Odds
For the first time in franchise history, the Pittsburgh Steelers are a perfect 8-0 to start a season.
Halfway through the campaign, their record remains unblemished, though that almost changed on the road last week when they barely outlasted the terrible Cowboys in a late-game thriller.
On the other side, Cincinnati was able to watch that game from home on its bye week. The Bengals are still basking in the glory of their best performance of the season, coming off a shocking 31-20 victory over the Titans in Week 8.
The Bengals have only won twice this season, but that’s already a small victory considering what they’ve found in rookie phenom quarterback Joe Burrow.
The LSU product and No. 1 overall draft pick has been “Joey Covers” so far, with the Bengals are 6-2 against the spread this season. Cincinnati has been scoring late, garbage-time touchdowns to cover the spread, but has also been consistently trailing by double digits late in games.
Burrow and the Bengals have had a knack for covering late in games, but can Cincinnati keep this close game against Pittsburgh close as a big underdog?
The Bengals suffered a 27-3 blowout loss to the Ravens a month ago, but Cincinnati has won, tied or lost by five or fewer points in every other game.
Looking deep into the numbers, the Bengals’ advanced metrics are not great. According to Football Outsiders’ DVOA, the Bengals rank in the bottom 10 in both rushing and passing offense, as well rushing and passing defense.
Needless to say, Cincinnati isn’t awful on either side of the ball, but it’s also not average at much either.
The Bengals also not particularly healthy, even coming off the bye. Running back Joe Mixon has been ruled out, and the offensive line will likely be missing two or three starters again.
Cincinnati’s defense is also in bad shape, likely missing most of its defensive line. The Bengals’ already weak cornerbacks are banged up as well.
The Steelers have a sizable advantage here, with the team pretty healthy overall outside of the loss of Devin Bush.
As it has all season, Pittsburgh is winning with defense. The Steelers have the No. 2 defensive DVOA, ranking in the top four in both pass and rush defense. Suffice it to say, Pittsburgh has a championship-caliber defense.
And while the defense continues to lead the way, the offense has struggled to keep pace. Pittsburgh’s offense has yet to find its rhythm, with Ben Roethlisberger being more of a distributor. He’s been getting the ball out quickly to his playmakers on short passes, then hoping they can do the rest.
The Steelers have scored between 24 and 28 points in all but two games. That’s fine, but it’s not scaring anyone. However, considering the fact they’ve allowed 24 or fewer points in all but one game, it’s enough to do the trick.
Overall, Pittsburgh tends to play down to its opponent — the Steelers have five one-score victories and have only one win by more than 10 points. They also tend to let opponents hang around more than they should. By contrast, the Bengals tend to make things close late.
Getting a clear picture?
Roethlisberger grew up in Ohio and played his college ball there. He’s also dominated NFL teams from the state, going 47-9-1 lifetime against Cincinnati and Cleveland straight up, including 23-7 against the Bengals.
The Steelers have won 10 in a row against the Bengals, but true to its habit of playing down to the opponent, seven of those wins are by one score. The games tend to be close and ugly, without ever really feeling like Pittsburgh is in jeopardy of losing the game.
The teams have also combined for an average of just 39.1 points in those 10 most recent games.
This game opened at Pittsburgh giving 9.5 points, which had me leaning toward Cincinnati. Unfortunately, everyone else agreed. The line dropped quickly and currently sits at -7. Needless to say, that killed off much of the Bengals’ value on the board.
I still prefer Cincinnati when it comes to a side, but if you want to play the Bengals, you should shop around with our odds page and look to get off that key number at another book. When the line is at 7, every half point in either direction matters.
The best play on this game looks like a Pittsburgh teaser. A standard teaser gets us down to the Steelers basically just having to win the game, and we know they find a way to win even if things get ugly.
You might like to play the Steelers with the under on a six-point teaser. having Pittsburgh at -1 and a total under 53.5 points looks like a pretty solid bet. I happen to love the Ravens at -7 on a teaser for many of the same reasons, so I’m looking to play Pittsburgh and Baltimore down to -1 on the line.
Consider the under, and lean toward a Cincinnati cover if the line moves back above seven points before kickoff.
PICK: Tease Steelers down to -1