Bengals vs. Steelers Odds & Picks: How To Bet Monday Night Football
Joe Sargent/Getty Images. Pictured: Pittsburgh Steelers outside linebacker T.J. Watt.
Bengals vs. Steelers Odds
Despite dropping two straight games after an 11-0 start, the Steelers clinched a playoff spot in Week 14 by way of a Dolphins loss. The next step is to clinch the third division title in the past five years, which the Steelers can do by simply beating the Bengals on Monday night as two-touchdown favorites.
Pittsburgh has won the past 11 meetings against its division foe, but can it cover this large spread? Let’s take a look.
Most knew that the Steelers were a flawed 11-0 team. They’re a legit contender in the AFC, sure, but they’re far from perfect — especially when it comes to an offense that lacks balance and explosiveness.
The offensive line has struggled, ranking 31st in Adjusted Line Yards (per Football Outsiders), which has contributed to an almost nonexistent rushing attack that ranks dead last in expected yards per carry. Their offense is almost completely reliant on a short passing attack, which makes it difficult to sustain drives — especially when the receivers have drop issues as we’ve seen over the past month.
The defense remains elite but has benefited from a very easy schedule of opponents. In fact, if you count Carson Wentz as a backup (which he currently is), the Steelers will face their seventh backup quarterback in 14 games on Monday.
That said, we do know this defense is Super Bowl caliber, and it all starts up front with one of the most dominant defensive fronts in all of football.
There’s not really much to say about the Bengals, who currently sit at 2-10-1.
It wasn’t a completely lost season since they got to see Joe Burrow do some really good things as a rookie, and that despite having one of the worst offensive lines in the league. However, with Burrow now out for the season, there’s not much to be excited about with this team.
The offense is frankly completely dead at the moment. In the three games since Burrow went down, the Bengals have averaged 10.33 points per game. And seven of their 31 points came on a kick return for a touchdown against the Giants. That means their offense has averaged 8 points per game over the past three. They had one single play for more than 20 yards against a horrid Cowboys defense last week. That was a 21-yard completion.
Cincy has basically had one explosive play without Burrow, which came on a short pass that Tyler Boyd took 72 yards for a touchdown against the Dolphins.
The Bengals have failed to reach 200 total yards in two of their past three games. In those trio of contests, they’ve averaged a pathetic 3.96 yards per play.
Despite some of Pittsburgh’s offensive flaws, it should have no issues moving the ball through the air against a horrid Cincy defense. And I just can’t see Cincy’s offense doing much of anything here. Even when the Bengals had Burrow under center for the first meeting between these teams, they could muster only a mere 10 points in a 36-10 blowout loss.
I don’t envision the Bengals getting to 14, just as they’ve failed to do in each of the past four times these teams have met.
I do have to point out that this is historically a nightmare spot for Mike Tomlin: On the road as a favorite against a sub-.500 team. For his career, Tomlin is 16-29-1 (35.6%) against the spread in this spot, failing to cover by just under a field goal per game. He’s the least profitable coach in this scenario in our Bet Labs database since 2003.
Why? Well, to me, Tomlin is a rah-rah coach. He’s an elite motivator who thrives at getting his teams ready for big games, especially as underdogs. He excels when he can use the “us vs. the world” factor. But conversely, his teams consistently come out flat as big favorites, which we’ve seen a few times this year. As a double-digit favorite, Tomlin is just 13-21 ATS — also the least profitable mark in our database.
However, I actually don’t have that fear for Pittsburgh here after two straight losses with a chance to lock up the division. Plus, Cincy is just that bad right now. This could play out more like the Jacksonville game earlier this season, when Pittsburgh destroyed Jake Luton in a similar spot.
I’m not a fan of laying double digits on the road in the NFL, especially in a late-season divisional matchup, but it’s Pittsburgh or nothing here. That said, the best bet is to go Cincy’s team under at 13.5 points. Without flukes, I can’t see them getting to 14.
PICK: Bengals Under 13.5 Points