It is Steelers week for the Bengals. This will be the first time first overall pick Joe Burrow will get a shot to show what he has in this rivalry. Will he be able to tip the scales in Cincinnati’s favors? The experts and oddsmakers aren’t exactly confident in that.
The Bengals are currently seven-point underdogs to the Steelers, according to Bovada. Considering Cincinnati opened up as +9.5, that is a pretty big shift. On paper, it may be surprising to some that this spread isn’t a little bit wider with an undefeated team facing a team that has only managed two wins this season. However, the Bengals have been able to be competitive or even cover in almost all of their games this season. The magic that Jo Burrow has brought has started to be recognized by the oddsmakers.
- Cincinnati is 6-1 against the spread in their last seven games.
- The total has gone over in four of Cincinnati’s last five games.
- Cincinnati is 4-15-1 straight up in their last 20 games.
- Cincinnati is 5-13-2 against the spread in their last 20 games against Pittsburgh.
- Cincinnati is 0-10 straight up in their last 10 games against Pittsburgh.
- Cincinnati is 0-15-1 straight up in their last 16 games on the road.
- Cincinnati is 1-6 SU in their last seven games when playing on the road against Pittsburgh.
- Cincinnati is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games this season.
- The total has gone over in five of Cincinnati’s last six games against an opponent in the AFC.
- The total has gone over in four of Cincinnati’s last five games against an opponent in the AFC North.
- Pittsburgh is 5-1 against the spread in their last six games.
- Pittsburgh is 8-0 straight up in their last eight games.
- Pittsburgh is 8-1 straight up in their last nine games at home.
- Pittsburgh is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games this season.
- Pittsburgh is 4-1 against the spread in their last five games against an opponent in the AFC.
- The total has gone under in seven of Pittsburgh’s last 10 games against an opponent in the AFC North.
- The total has gone under in four of Pittsburgh’s last five games played in November.
- Three of ESPN’s 10 experts are taking a chance on the Bengals
- SB Nation also has three of their 10 experts taking a chance on the underdogs
- CBS Sports Only has one experts going with Cincinnati
- NFL Pick Watch, which compiles picks from experts around the web, only has the Bengals receiving eight percent.
There is more confidence from the experts this week in the Bengals than you’d think. A lot of that probably has to do with the Steelers playing so poorly last week, and Cincinnati getting their biggest win of the season against the Titans before their bye week. Still, it is very obvious who the favorite in the game is, but there was a time before Burrow that you wouldn’t see anyone caught dead taking the Bengals in a game like this.
There is plenty of history between these teams during the Mike Tomlin era. There have even been times it has spilt beyond the field. Even last year, in Zac Taylor’s first season, this team couldn’t reverse their fate against this team. You have to go back to 2015 for the last time Cincinnati actually beat Pittsburgh.
This is a new day, though. I won’t go as far to say that the Bengals will win, but this could be the game where Burrow puts the rest of the AFC North and possibly NFL on notice. This game will be far more competitive than it has any business being, and the biggest reason for that will be the first overall pick working his magic. He has had an entire week to mentally get ready for this game, and it honestly means more to this Bengals team than an undefeated Steelers team at this point.
The biggest thing that could hold this Bengals’ offense back is the pass rush getting to their rookie quarterback early and often. The unintended side effect of Joe Mixon being out with an injury is that Giovani Bernard will be out on the field more often, and he has to be one of the best pass blocking running backs in the NFL with what he has done the past few weeks.
The question becomes how well can this defense contain Pittsburgh’s offense? The answer to that isn’t great on paper, but if you would’ve told me they would’ve played that well against the Titans last week I probably wouldn’t have believed you either. If they are to have a chance, players like Jessie Bates, Carl Lawson and a few of the many young linebackers have to step up and create turnovers or stops. They will have to play some of their best football of the season, because Ben Roethlisberger has been dealing to guys like JuJu Smith-Schuster and rookie Chase Claypool. There is just so much firepower that it is hard to see this defense keeping them in the 20’s.
I think this ends up being pretty close to a shootout for this rivalry’s standards. At the end of the day, the defenses struggles will popup late again, and Cincinnati probably ends up settling just a little too often on offense to be in position at the end of the game.
Steelers 38 Bengals 30