Monday Night Football Picks: Steelers at Bengals Odds and Predictions
by Alan Matthews - 9/13/2013
Let me preface this by saying I highly doubt it, but could Mike Tomlin be in some trouble with the Pittsburgh Steelers this season? I hate to overreact to one week, but Pittsburgh looked arguably like the second-worst team in football in its opening 16-9 home loss to Tennessee (Jags are easily the worst). How does a team score only one late touchdown against a defense that allowed an NFL-high 29.4 points a season ago (a franchise record)? That ended a 10-game winning streak in home openers for Pittsburgh.
The Steelers are one of the best-run franchises in football, and they don't panic and quickly fire coaches. Tomlin is highly, highly respected around the league and would get a job in a second. However, if this team goes something like 5-11, which would be its worst record since 1988, you never know. I doubt 5-11 is in the cards simply because Pittsburgh remains very good on defense, but who on that offense would you want? Seriously, take a team like the Jaguars. Sure, you would take Ben Roethsliberger over Blaine Gabbert/Chad Henne, but I'd rather have the Jaguars' skill position talent and offensive line over the Steelers'.
Who would have thought Pittsburgh would be a baseball-first town in mid-September. Shoot, once the Penguins begin, the Steelers might be third.
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Steelers at Bengals Betting Story Lines
Pittsburgh already had a very questionable offensive line to begin with, but it lost Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey to a season-ending knee injury early against the Titans. It happened on one of the few times the Steelers were driving. After Pouncey went out, the Steelers did squat until the Titans went into a prevent defense in the final minutes with a 16-3 lead. Big Ben was sacked five teams, and Pittsburgh's running game managed all of 31 yards. Rookie Le'Veon Bell presumably will start when he's healthy, but that's not likely for another month or so. Isaac Redman will start again Monday night despite fumbling twice and carrying seven times for eight yards against the Titans. The Steelers also brought back recently-released Jonathan Dwyer this week, and he'll get some looks. Yippee. Dwyer's re-signing was necessitated because backup RB La-Rod Stephens-Howling also was lost for the year in Week 1.
Defensively, there looks to be two new starting linebackers this week. Larry Foote was yet another season-ending casualty against Tennessee, and Kion Wilson will take his place. He's only a special teams player. Rookie Jarvis Jones also appears likely to replace Jason Worilds at outside linebacker. Jones was a bright spot in Week 1 with two tackles for loss against Tennessee.
The Bengals let one get away in Chicago in their opener, blowing a 21-10 lead and falling, 24-21. Cincinnati committed a few stupid penalties and coughed up the ball three times but otherwise looked like the better team for much of the game. A.J. Green might be ready to take over Calvin Johnson's spot as the NFL's best receiver. Green torched the Bears for nine catches, 162 yards and two scores. Andy Dalton was a solid 26-for-33 for 282 yards and two scores but did have two picks. The Bengals run game didn't do much of anything.
A lot of the story line on Monday will be about Bengals linebacker James Harrison in his first game against his former mates. Pittsburgh cut him in March rather than pay him $6.53 million. He signed a two-year, $4.45 million deal with the Bengals. I can only imagine how fired up the hyper-intense Harrison will be for this game. He was the 2008 NFL Defensive Player of the Year and had one of the great defensive plays in Super Bowl history for the Steelers against the Arizona Cardinals.
These teams split two meetings last year, each losing at home. In Week 7 in Cincinnati, the Bengals lost 24-17 as one-point dogs. Dwyer ran for a career-high 122 yards in his first start. Cincinnati was up 14-3 late in the second quarter but couldn't move the ball in the second half. Dalton threw for only 105 yards, and Green had just one catch, although it was a touchdown. The Bengals ended a five-game losing streak in the series with a 13-10 win in Pittsburgh in Week 16 that clinched a playoff berth and eliminated Pittsburgh.
Steelers at Bengals NFL “Monday Night Football” Betting Odds and Trends
At WagerWeb, the Bengals are seven-point favorites with a total of 41. Pittsburgh is 3-9 ATS in its past 12 road games. The Steelers are 1-5 ATS in their past five September games. They are 12-5 ATS in their past 17 following a loss. Cincinnati is 4-0 ATS in its past four against teams with a winning record. It is 1-4 ATS in its past five Monday games. The “under” is 8-0 in Pittsburgh's past eight Week 2 games. The under is 7-2 in the Steelers' past nine against the AFC North. The under is 4-0 in Cincinnati's past four home games and 6-0 in past six against the AFC. The favorite has covered in five of the past six meetings. The under is 4-1 in the past five.
Monday Night Football Picks: Steelers at Bengals Betting Predictions
Pittsburgh hasn't been 0-2 in 11 years, but I see no way that's avoidable even though the Steelers are 7-1 on MNF under Tomlin, 9-3 when Roethlisberger starts on MNF and have won 10 of their past 11 in Cincinnati. The Bengals won three of their final four at home last year -- and should have been all four but gagged one away to Dallas -- and Dalton was very good in those games, throwing nine TDs to just one pick.
I would shop around and/or wait to see if there's any movement on this line. I have seen it at 6.5, and a lot of the money is on Pittsburgh, so it could drop to that number everywhere. I love the under more than the spread. At 6.5, I'd lean Cincinnati. At seven I think it pushes.
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