Monday Night Football Betting Preview: Bengals-Steelers odds, trends, pick
The Steelers enter the final game of Week 4 as three-point favorites against the Bengals, and with a relatively modest over/under of 45 points, bettors could go in a variety of directions in this one. Let’s break down both sides of this AFC North Monday Night Football matchup to help you find the sharpest bets and build your bankroll.
The Bengals head to Pittsburgh to face the division rival Steelers on Monday Night Football in search of their first win of the season. The Bengals lost close games in Week 1 and Week 3 against the Seahawks and Bills, respectively, and were blown out by the 49ers in Week 2. Like the Bengals, the Steelers are also looking for their first win of the season. The Steelers were routed in Week 1 by the Patriots and followed that blowout with two close losses against the Seahawks and 49ers in Weeks 2 and 3 when Mason Rudolph took over for the injured Ben Roethlisberger.
If the Bengals hope to win on Monday night, they need to give Andy Dalton more help. So far this season, Dalton’s 326.3 passing yards per game ranks second in the NFL behind only Patrick Mahomes. He had a career-high 418 passing yards against the Seahawks in Week 1, but the rest of the team let him down as the Bengals couldn’t hold onto their lead. Cincinnati’s run offense hasn’t helped Dalton much, as they are dead last in the NFL with both 41.7 yards rushing per game and 2.4 yards per carry (a full half yard below any other team). Joe Mixon has just 87 yards rushing on the season with no rushing touchdowns and no runs for 15 or more yards. Through three games, Dalton has the only rushing touchdown for the Bengals as their offensive line has been putrid at opening up holes.
While the offense has struggled to run the ball, the defense has been one of the worst units against the run. The Bengals are allowing the second-most rushing yards per game at 168.7 yards per contest. Cincinnati is also allowing the fifth-most rushing yards per attempt (4.9). Cincinnati’s defense ranks 14th against the pass, as it has allowed opponents to average 237.7 yards through the air.
Fortunately for Dalton, his young receivers are improving before our eyes. John Ross III’s 97.3 receiving yards per game ranks fourth in the NFL through three weeks while Tyler Boyd’s 83.3 receiving yards per game ranks 19th. Look for these two players to have big nights on Monday, as the Steelers have struggled in the secondary (see below).
The Bengals are looking to change a few trends that have gone against the Steelers and in prime-time matchups. Cincinnati has lost eight straight against Pittsburgh and 11 of its past 12 against its divisional rivals. Since Dalton joined the Bengals in 2011, Cincinnati is 6-15 in prime-time games, including 2-5 on Monday Night Football. Furthermore, the Bengals have lost their past five games against teams from the AFC North. But, despite losing each of its past five games overall, Cincinnati is 6-1 against the spread in its past seven games.
Injuries have played an impactful role in the young 2019 season for the 0-3 Steelers. Quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is out for the season with an elbow injury he suffered in Week 2 against Seattle. Tight ends have also been hit hard, as Xavier Grimble is on injured reserve with a calf problem and fellow tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder) is doubtful to play in this game. In an effort to help quarterback Mason Rudolph at the tight end position, especially with McDonald’s status up in the air this week, the Steelers sent a fifth-round pick in the 2020 draft to Seattle for tight end Nick Vannett.
With the Roethlisberger injury, all three of the once-vaunted Pittsburgh Killer Bs will be absent for the rest of the 2019 season with Le’Veon Bell on the Jets, Antonio Brown without a team, and Big Ben sidelined for the year. Life after the first two Killer Bs has been a struggle in 2019 since running back James Conner is averaging just 2.9 yards per carry and 97 total rushing yards through three games as the full-time starter. The Steelers rank 29th in the NFL with just 64 rushing yards per game on offense. JuJu Smith-Schuster has 243 yards receiving and a touchdown, but he only has 14 catches on 23 targets. The Steelers need someone else to take the attention of secondaries away from Smith-Schuster, but no other Pittsburgh receivers have over 100 total receiving yards this season.
On defense, the Steelers were exposed in Week 1 and have allowed 9.1 yards per passing attempt. Pittsburgh recently traded for former first-round safety Minkah Fitzpatrick from the Dolphins to help this unit. While struggling against the pass, the Pittsburgh run defense ranks 12th in the NFL with 4.1 yards per carry allowed and 26th with 139.3 rushing yards per game allowed. The defense is led by Stephon Tuitt, whose 3.5 sacks ranked sixth in the NFL through three games. Despite their recent struggles on defense, the Steelers will look to continue their divisional domination as they are 14-1-1 straight up in their past 16 games against AFC North opponents.
The Steelers and Bengals’ defensive units are tied for the third-most passing yards allowed per attempt at 9.1. Only the Dolphins and Giants have been worse so far this season. The Steelers have allowed quarterbacks to average the third highest passer rating in the NFL (116.3) while the Bengals have allowed the seventh highest passer rating (110.3). Both teams also rank in the bottom of the NFL in rushing yards per attempt and rushing yards per game. Both teams have struggled to possess the ball this season with inconsistent running attacks, so expect Rudolph and Dalton to air the ball out quite a bit.
BetQL’s NFL Model projects the Steelers to win and cover in a low-scoring battle. The model rates both quarterbacks and offenses with sub-par grades, resulting in the projection.