Week 15 sports betting action in the NFL comes to a close on Monday Night Football as the Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati to take on the division-rival Bengals. In this second game of the series between these NFL teams, the sportsbook made some significant changes to the odds.
|Game: Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1)
Location: Paul Brown Stadium
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Last month, when the Pittsburgh Steelers hosted the first game of the series, they laid less than a touchdown, widely available in NFL odds. The total was 46 back then, and in this round of NFL betting it’s like they just took a touchdown away from the Cincinnati Bengals. They’re now catching two touchdowns and the total has sunk.
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The Steelers have officially reached the “deep breath” portion of the season. That’s when the quarterback addresses the media and fans imploring them to take a deep breath and not panic.
Panic might not help, but concern is needed on the offensive line as last week another pair of players went down. LG Matt Feiler played a total of 10 snaps before he suffered a pectoral injury in their loss last Sunday night. His replacement, Kevin Dotson, lasted only a short while into the second half before he injured his shoulder and had to leave the game. That brought on J.C. Hassenauer to finish, and even Jerald Hawkins got some snaps.
Feiler is now on the injured reserve, though he didn’t actually tear his pectoral and they’re hopeful he can return for the playoffs. Dotson is lost for at least this week with this shoulder injury. And Hassenauer will reportedly start at left guard on Monday night. Things are thin on the O-line, as names like Derwin Gray will play direct backup roles and the team is signing linemen off the Chiefs’ practice squad.
Starting running back James Conner revealed he has been playing through a quad injury that finally landed him on the list. He missed the first practice on Thursday, but did limited work the remainder of the week and is fully expected to play.
On the upside, CB Joe Haden cleared the injury report from a concussion he sustained the week before last. He’s expected to clear the protocol and play on Monday.
“Brandon Allen, Logan Wilson, Brandon Wilson” — a classic, forgotten Laurel and Hardy sketch.
Backup-become-starting quarterback Brandon Allen got kneecapped last week in the team’s loss to the Dallas Cowboys last Sunday. What’s been described as a bone bruise kept him from the entire week of practice and designated out. QB Ryan Finley, who filled in for the final drive of the game (a four and out) will get the start. (They even signed Pat Shurmur’s kid to the practice squad.)
LB Logan Wilson left the Dallas game early with a foot injury. The details are unclear, but the Bengals already declared Wilson out after he missed the week of practice.
S Brandon Wilson (hamstring) missed the last game, but rehabbed back to practice and did so fully on Friday. Cincinnati coach Zac Taylor expressed he expected Wilson to be available despite his questionable listing.
In other Bengals’ losses, earlier in the week, the team moved DT Geno Atkins to the injured reserve. His production compared to his contract (not to mention the futility of the Bengals’ season) ultimately led to the decision to shut him down and allow him to move on to surgery and likely another team.
To their benefit, they’ll be returning a few players who haven’t played since at least the week before last. They activated DE Amani Bledsoe from the IR-C. Backup C B.J. Finney cleared the injury report and could provide some depth now that LT Jonah Williams was moved to the injured reserve. And S Shawn Williams, suspended for stepping on a defenseless player, has served his one-game suspension.
Finally, the RB Joe Mixon watch can be postponed until at least next week, as he will not be activated from injured reserve until at least then.
Forcing the Bengals to their third-string quarterback, when the description of “anemic” is already too generous to the offense, it’s not a surprise that pretty much all the bets have come on the Steelers. Some big-money bettors love taking double-digit points when it’s on the wrong side of the line, and the point spread opened 13, getting notched down to 12½.
But by the time it was clear Brandon Allen wouldn’t be playing, that shot up to 14½ — at which point markets punted between that number and 13½. The spread is now two touchdowns juiced slightly to the favorite. The total notched down from 40½ to 40.
With the Steelers on a two-game losing streak, they couldn’t ask for a better set up for their “get right” game. Normally, laying these kinds of points with Mike Tomlin’s Steelers is foolish (and may still be) but we’ll believe this is an opportunity where they won’t play down to the opponent. Lean to the Pittsburgh Steelers -14, but there doesn’t appear to be any potential surprises that will come from injuries before kickoff, so expect to get a better number as game time approaches. We’d be surprised if a 13½ doesn’t show up before then.
To be fair to him, Ryan Finley’s last start was against the Steelers last November where he went 12 for 26 netting 192 yards, a touchdown and no picks. They lost 16-10, and Finley was benched a few days later for Andy Dalton.
We’d also have a slight lean to under the total of 40, unclear if Cincinnati will even approach their team total of 13 points.