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Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals FREE PICK

December 18, 2020
Steelers vs Bengals Free Play

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2, 8-5 ATS) at Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1, 7-5-1 ATS) FREE PICK

The point spread is currently Pittsburgh -13 and the total is sitting at 40.5 points at top ranked sportsbooks.

Three games in 12 days took the Pittsburgh Steelers from 11-0 and 8-3 ATS to 11-2 and 8-5 ATS. Relief is on its way though as Pittsburgh will take on AFC North rival Cincinnati on Monday night. The Steelers own the series with the Bengals having won the last 11 in a row. The last time Cincy beat Pittsburgh at home was in 2013.

The Bengals are also just not very good. They weren’t good to begin with early in the 2020 season. To make matters worse, Cincinnati lost its No. 1 draft pick and starting quarterback Joe Burrow to an ACL injury. This is exactly the kind of opponent Pittsburgh needs to put itself back on the right track.

Bengals Woes

Cincinnati started the season 2-5-1, but with Burrow at quarterback the Bengals were at least in games and were pretty fun to watch. In those eight games, Cincy sported a very bettor-friendly 6-1-1 ATS record.

Since that start, the Bengals are somehow even worse than previously. In the five games since Burrow suffered his knee injury, the Bengals are 1-4 ATS and the offense has averaged … wait for it … 10 points per game. In each of their last two games, Cincinnati has scored a measly seven points. In a 30-7 loss to 4-9 Dallas, the Bengals turned the ball over three times. In a loss to Miami, Cincy managed just 196 total yards and turned the ball over twice.

Brandon Allen is listed as questionable for Monday night’s game. For the season, Allen has completed 55-of-84 passes (65.5%) for 506 yards and three touchdowns. If Allen can’t go, then the offense gets turned over to Ryan Finley, who has seen action in each of the last three Bengals games. Whoever starts at quarterback for Cincinnati…it won’t matter.

Pittsburgh Defense

Despite suffering through some injuries to key players, the Steelers defense is the best in the NFL. They rank first in points allowed per game giving up 18.2. Pittsburgh is third in total defense, sixth against the run, and second against the pass. When you add it all up, the Bengals are going to have a tough time moving the football on Monday night.

The Pittsburgh pass rush is ferocious with T.J. Watt leading the charge. Watt is second in the league with 12 sacks through 13 games. Stephon Tuitt is tenth with 8.0 sacks tied with teammate Bud Dupree. Unfortunately for the Steelers, Dupree was lost for the rest of the season to a knee injury suffered in the win over Baltimore.

Losing Dupree is devastating, but the Steelers have plugged in rookie Alex Highsmith opposite Watt. Pittsburgh had to do the same thing earlier in the season when they lost ILB Devin Bush to injury. Robert Spillane filled in and did an admirable job until he too was injured. Now, the job has been turned over the Avery Williamson who recorded nine tackles against Washington and 11 last week at Buffalo.

What the Steelers Need

What Pittsburgh really needs is for its offense to get back on the rails. The Steelers were 10-0 and averaging 30 points a game before its recent skid of going 1-2 and 0-3 ATS while scoring just 17 points per game. Part of the problem is QB Ben Roethlisberger who has just five touchdown passes and four interceptions in those three games. In that 10-0 streak, Big Ben had 24 touchdown tosses to just five picks.

What should help Roethlisberger on Monday night is the Steelers running game, which also needs to get back on track. The Steelers actually have the 31st-ranked rushing offense in the NFL. They have struggled tremendously to run the football. The Steelers managed just 21 rushing yards against Washington and only 47 last week in the loss to Buffalo.

Cincy may allow Pittsburgh to find its running game again. The Bengals are ranked 28th against the run allowing opponents 131.7 yards rushing per game. The Steelers may be without RB James Conner, but Benny Snell and Jaylen Samuels are capable backs. Running the football should allow Roethlisberger more success in the passing game than he has had in recent weeks.

What It All Means

Recent history may be a bias, but can you trust Pittsburgh to cover a 13-point spread when they are 0-3 ATS in their last three games? Go back six games and the Steelers are just 2-4 ATS. Now, Pittsburgh is 10-3-2 ATS in the last 15 games with Cincinnati. The Steelers have won 14 of those games.

 

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