It wasn’t long ago that the Cincinnati Bengals would have been the perfect tonic to get the Pittsburgh Steelers on the winning track. This writer is 2-0 in his Steelers betting previews, so let’s go 3-0.
The Steelers have won 14 of their last 16 games against their AFC North rivals. However, the Bengals stunned the Steelers 27-17 in Cincinnati in Week 15 last season and no longer look like complete pushovers.
The teams meet at 1 p.m. Sunday at Heinz Field.
Both teams are coming off losses in Week 2 after winning their openers. The Steelers fell at home to the Las Vegas Raiders 26-17 as 5.5-point favorites and the Bengals lost 20-17 to the Bears in Chicago as two-point underdogs.
The Steelers are also banged up with quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (pectoral), linebackers T.J. Watt (groin), Alex Highsmith (groin) and Devin Bush (groin), cornerback Joe Haden (groin) and wide receiver Diontae Johnson (knee) all appearing on the injury report this week.
UPDATE: Highsmith and Johnson will not play on Sunday. Reports indicate Watt will not play either, but he is still listed as questionable.
Let’s preview the Steelers-Bengals game with odds, picks and a prediction.
Current lines for Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers at DraftKings Sportsbook:
Spread: Cincinnati Bengals +3 (-105), Pittsburgh Steelers -3 (-115)
Moneyline: Bengals +155, Steelers -180
Over/Under: 44 (O -110), U (-110)
Bengals vs. Steelers Betting Preview
While playing hurt, Roethlisberger was 27 of 40 for 295 yards passing against the Raiders with one touchdown and one interception. The Steelers again had to rely heavily on Big Ben as they rushed for just 39 yards on 14 carries.
Ideally, the Steelers would lean heavily on the running game to take some of the load off Roethlisberger. However, the Steelers are last in the NFL in rushing for a second consecutive season and first-round draft pick Najee Harris has just 83 yards on 26 carries behind a rebuilt offensive line.
Complicating matters for the Steelers is the Bengals defense has been stout against the run, allowing just 3.4 yards a carry. Veteran defensive tackle D.J. Reader is healthy and clogging running lanes after being limited to five games last season because of injuries.
The Steelers could compensate for the lack of a rushing attack by taking more deep shots in the passing game. Wide receiver Chase Claypool is averaging 19.2 yards a reception this season with six catches for 115 yards.
Yet whether Roethlisberger will have enough arm strength to get the ball to Claypool for big gainers remains to be seen.
The Steelers gave Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow problems last season as a rookie when he was completed 21 of 40 for 213 yards and a TD while being sacked four times in a Week 10 loss at Heinz Field.
The Bengals-Steelers Bets We Love
Pittsburgh Steelers -3 (-110 — Draft Kings)
Love might be too strong of a word, but Roethlisberger often comes up big games when things look bleak and thrives on the drama that his injury provides.
The Bengals beat the Steelers last December with Ryan Finley at quarterback and Burrow is infinitely better. However, Burrow often looked confused against defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s schemes as a rookie.
Ja’Marr Chase over 62.5 Receiving Yards (-115 – MGM Grand)
Burrow, in his second season, has found comfort in having rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase as one of his top targets. The two teamed up in 2019 at LSU to deliver a national championship.
Chase has seven receptions for 155 yards – an average of 22.4 a catch – and two touchdowns through his first two games. Burrow will again be looking for Chase, who could have a big day with Haden at less than 100%
Roethlisberger is 26-7 in his career against the Bengals while Burrow has yet to beat an AFC North opponent. Look for those trends to continue as the wobbly Steelers find a way to win at home.
Steelers 27, Bengals 23