Monday Night Football features a matchup of two teams that desperately want to climb out of the AFC North basement. The Steelers are still reeling from the loss of Ben Roethlisberger while the Bengals are desperately looking for any kind of organizational momentum they can find. This game might not light up the ratings, but that doesn’t mean you should ignore it from a betting perspective. Pittsburgh enters the game as 3.5 point favorites at home, but there’s a lot of variance potential for this battle between division rivals.
If you haven’t checked out our Statschecker tool yet, you are really missing out. It’s the best place to get all of the information you need to know before you put your hard earned money on the line. In this piece I’ll give you five intriguing facts you need to know about Monday night’s game, but you should check out everything we have to offer at our Statschecker site.
The Steelers own the Bengals
This game is a rivalry between two teams that don’t like each other very much. That doesn’t mean it’s been an evenly matched affair lately. The fact is the Steelers have beaten the Bengals eight times in a row.
In fairness, Roethlisberger has had a massive hand in Pittsburgh’s dominance. It’s very possible that Cincinnati will see this as a golden opportunity to break their losing streak. Mason Rudolph has really struggled to replace Big Ben in the starting lineup. Desperation could play a significant role on Monday night.
Cincinnati likes to cover on the road
The Bengals don’t always win away from home, but they have a solid track record of playing home favorites tough. In fact, they’ve covered the spread in their last six away games as underdogs.
Joe Mixon’s rugged running style is a big reason why the Bengals can be so tough away from home. Look for him to get the ball early and often against Pittsburgh. If he can help his offense control the clock it could make this game very interesting in the fourth quarter.
Don’t expect a shootout
Neither of these offenses is lighting up scoreboards this season. The recent history between the two teams also points towards the under being a prudent play. The Steelers are 2-6 against the over as favorites against the Bengals since 2014.
This one has all the makings of a low-scoring slugfest. The Steelers will do everything they can to take pressure off of Rudolph. That means you should see a ton of James Conner as long as the game stays close. Similarly, the Bengals will try to bludgeon the Steelers defense with a ton of Joe Mixon. This game could suffer from a serious absence of explosive offensive plays.
Pittsburgh hasn’t been great for the Steelers
When you think about Heinz Field it’s natural to assume it’s a great home field advantage for the Steelers. The results don’t back that up though. Mike Tomlin’s team is just 5-4 at home since the start of the 2018 season.
That doesn’t mean you should jump all over Cincinnati to score the road win. It just means that you shouldn’t price a massive home field advantage into your thinking. Bet this game more like it’s being played on a neutral field.
James Conner will be a big factor
Conner is in line to get a heavy workload in this game. He’ll get tons of carries, but look for him to be heavily involved in the screen game as well. There’s a reason why the talented running back has found the end zone at least once in five of his team’s last six games as favorites.
The Bengals defense needs to make Conner the first priority if they want to win this football game. Even if they do, they might not have the talent to really shut him down. Conner’s ability to grind out yards should be a big concern for Bengals fans.
Lean slightly towards the Steelers
There isn’t anything great about backing a team led by Mason Rudolph for NFL success. He’s really struggled in relief of Roethlisberger. However, Pittsburgh has a roster talent advantage in this game that is too large to ignore. As such, you should be willing to lay the points to back Pittsburgh to earn their first win of the season. It won’t be pretty, but in the end, Tomlin’s team should walk out of Heinz Field at 1-3 on Monday night.