After starting the season with bangs, the Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers came crashing back down to earth with Week 2 losses. Now, both teams look to rebound but the NFL betting lines favor the host Steelers to get it done in what could be a nail-biter.
|Game: Cincinnati Bengals (1-1) at Pittsburgh Steelers (1-1)
Location: Heinz Field. Date: Sunday
Time: 1 p.m. ET
|Team||Point Spread||Moneyline||Over/Under||Team Total|
|Cincinnati||+3½ -110||+160||43½ -110o|
|Pittsburgh||-3½ -110||-180||43½ -110u|
Head to Head
Cincinnati won the last meeting between both teams but that marked its first victory against Pittsburgh in 11 games. In the Mike Tomlin era, the Steelers are 23-6 against the Bengals and are 67-36 against them all-time (65-36 in the regular season).
Next game: vs Jacksonville Jaguars
The Bengals lost in Soldier Field against the Chicago Bears. They were two-point underdogs per Las Vegas’ odds and lost 20-17. Cincinnati outgained the Bears with 248 yards but committed four turnovers, including three picks, from quarterback Joe Burrow.
Cincinnati placed backup safety Ricardo Allen (hand) on the injured reserve (IR).
Next game: at Green Bay Packers
After upsetting the Buffalo Bills in Week 1, the Steelers returned home to Heinz Field and suffered their own upset against the Las Vegas Raiders. They were 5½-point favorites but failed to get any offense going, losing 26-17. Pittsburgh’s vaunted defense allowed 425 total yards.
Pittsburgh lost a member of its starting defense as defensive end Tyson Alualu (ankle) has been placed on the IR, joining fellow DE Stephon Tuitt (knee). This leaves the Steelers looking to third-stringer Isaiah Buggs to fill the void. Linebacker T.J. Watt (groin) was injured in last week’s game but could be available.
Betting on the Game
Pittsburgh covered as an underdog in Week 1 but flopped as chalk last week. The Steelers’ record dropped to 1-4 as an NFL pick against the spread (ATS) when playing at home. The team remains cold on offense and with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (knee) banged up, the Steelers could be even worse.
The betting lines have them as 3½-point favorites, down from the 4½-point opening line. Bettors are fading Pittsburgh thanks to last week’s listless offense. Pittsburgh trailed the entire game. If it wasn’t the offense failing to score, it was the defense letting the Raiders score right back.
Cincinnati has not exactly been a ray of sunshine, either. The Bengals are also coming off a loss and dropped to 4-5 ATS when playing as a road underdog. Like the Steelers, Cincinnati’s offense stalled, although Burrow did start to come alive toward the end. But it was too little, too late.
Still, until Pittsburgh can revitalize its offense, it is tough to trust even as a smaller favorite. Pittsburgh is only 3-3-1 ATS in its last seven games against Cincinnati. It has failed to cover in its last four games as a favorite. With a banged-up team and an improving Bengals team visiting, the trend could continue.
Never mind covering the spread. Pittsburgh isn’t even guaranteed to win this game. It used to be that a matchup with the Bengals was an easy W, but that’s not the case anymore. Cincinnati’s defense showed out against the Bears, limiting them to just 116 yards and taking out ex-Bengals QB Andy Dalton in the process.
Burrow had one of his worst outings in Soldier Field, throwing for a career-high three interceptions. He will be better this time around and should have a performance resembling Week 1, where he averaged 9.67 yards per attempt while completing 20 of 27 passes for two scores.
Pittsburgh’s defense, which has been its backbone, is also regressing. They already lost an edge rusher and both Watt and cornerback Joe Haden have groin injuries that could limit their production.
It’s looking bleak in Pittsburgh. But don’t expect the Steelers to just roll over for the Bengals. Tomlin has never had a losing season and he’ll find a way to frustrate the Bengals as Pittsburgh guts out a win here. Still, it may be best to side with the underdog or to abstain when betting online.
At 44 points, this game is lined as the third-lowest scoring for Sunday. Both teams combined to score just 34 points last week and they have solid defenses. The line has moved from 44½ to 43½ with sharp money going to the under, even if the over is receiving plenty of support as well.
The total is pretty low, but four of the last six meetings between the teams have gone under. In fact, the average total for their games has been 39.4 points. Cincinnati also tends to score a lot less when visiting as an underdog. The totals have gone under or pushed in six of its last nine games as a road dog.
Pittsburgh did allow over 400 yards to the Raiders. Derek Carr, playing with a rickety offensive line, lit up the Steelers like the Fourth of July throwing for 382 yards and a 126.2 passer rating. Pittsburgh did hold the Raiders to 16 points until the final 10 minutes.
Like they did against Buffalo, the Steelers can also force turnovers against the Bengals. Cincinnati has a 75 percent red zone scoring percentage so Pittsburgh can’t allow the Bengals to march down the field. Pressuring Burrow all game long will be the M.O. and it should be why this game falls just short of the total.