MNF Picks: Pittsburgh at Cincinnati

by | Dec 20, 2020 | nfl

Pittsburgh Steelers (11-2 SU, 8-5 ATS) vs. Cincinnati Bengals (2-10-1 SU, 7-6 ATS)

When: Monday, December 21, 8:15 p.m.

Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati

TV: ESPN

Point Spread: PIT -13/CIN +13 (Best Bonus Offers - Deposit $100 to $1000 and receive a generous 100% bonus!)

Total: O/U 40.5

Outlook

As far as Monday night games go, this is one that makes people question the entire concept of playing football on Monday in the first place. The Bengals used to be a fun and enjoyable team to bet on, but that was before the injury to Joe Burrow took place. Cincinnati’s offense has been a raging disaster without Burrow, scoring just 24 offensive points in the past three weeks (the Bengals did have a kickoff return for a touchdown against the Giants) as Brandon Allen has proven that he’s not capable of directing this offense.

Pittsburgh has its own problems, as the Steelers have now lost back-to-back games and are in danger of getting sucked back into the muck of the AFC playoff race. Pittsburgh had the inside track on the first-round bye that comes with the top seed, but the Steelers now sit second in the AFC and have a precarious hold on that spot. Instead of having a shot at catching Kansas City and making the playoffs go through Pittsburgh, the Steelers now have to worry about getting caught by Buffalo. Thanks to a loss to the Bills last week, the Steelers would now lose a tiebreaker to Buffalo, which could force them on the road in the playoffs as early as their second game.

With a win here, the Steelers would lock up the AFC North title and ensure that the first round will be played in Pittsburgh, which means this could be a statement game. With the Bengals struggling to get first downs, is there any chance of this going the wrong way?

How the Public is Betting the Pittsburgh/Cincinnati Game

The public certainly doesn’t think the Bengals have much of a shot of making this a game. Sixty-eight percent of tickets are on the Steelers, and the money has sent the line from -11.5 to -13 for the Steelers. The total is also dropping, falling from 41.5 to 40.5

Injury Concerns

Pittsburgh:
Cornerback Joe Haden (concussion), offensive lineman Kevin Dotson (shoulder), safety Terrell Edmunds (shoulder), offensive lineman Chukwuma Okorafor (ankle), and running back James Conner (quadriceps) are questionable. Running back Trey Edmunds (hamstring), tackle Matt Feiler (pectoral), linebacker Robert Spillane (knee), and linebacker Vince Williams (illness) are out indefinitely.

Cincinnati:
Defensive tackle Geno Atkins (shoulder) and quarterback Joe Burrow (knee) are on injured reserve. Center B.J. Finney (back), quarterback Brandon Allen (leg), tackle Jonah Williams (knee), safety Shawn Williams (suspension), safety Brandon Wilson (hamstring), and linebacker Logan Wilson (foot) are questionable. Wide receiver Auden Tate (shoulder) is out for the season, while defensive back Tony Brown (hamstring), running back Joe Mixon (foot), and wide receiver John Ross III (foot) are out indefinitely.

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When Pittsburgh Has the Ball

If you’re planning to take Pittsburgh in this game, do yourself a favor and wait until Sunday afternoon at the earliest to place your bet. Why? Because there’s a chance that this game doesn’t end up meaning that much to the Steelers. If Cleveland stumbles against the Giants, the Steelers are the AFC North champions, and the equation completely changes. There’s a real chance the Steelers would then choose to rest Ben Roethlisberger, and frankly, I really don’t want to trust laying almost two touchdowns to Landry Jones, even against Cincinnati.

Even with Roethlisberger on the field, the Steelers’ offense simply is not producing right now. Pittsburgh might have had an argument that its loss to Washington was a result of getting jerked around by Baltimore’s COVID issues, but there is no adequate excuse for losing as meekly as it did at Buffalo. The Steelers’ ground game was non-existent on a night when even an adequate performance would have been enough to get the job done. James Conner was supposed to be the Steelers’ main man this year, but the Steelers have only had a running back top 60 yards once in the past seven weeks. When JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool aren’t making big plays happen in the passing game, there’s not a lot here.

When Cincinnati Has the Ball

Just hanging on the ball would be a huge step in the right direction for the Bengals, as Cincinnati’s first three possessions against Dallas ended with the ball on the turf and the Cowboys recovering the fumble. Things got a little better from there, as Cincinnati ended up outgaining Dallas, but by that time, the Cowboys already had a 17-point lead, and it was clear that the Bengals weren’t going to be coming back from that kind of deficit.

The hard reality is that without Joe Burrow, Cincinnati cannot move the football. Only two of their possessions against Dallas ended with punts, but that’s because they ended three drives with fumbles and had another two end on fourth down after the Cowboys had put the game to bed. Against the Giants, Cincinnati didn’t cross into the red zone until three minutes remained in the fourth quarter and only had a chance to win the game because the defense was able to keep New York at bay (and the Giants’ offense is also pretty inept).

The Bengals don’t run it well enough with Joe Mixon on the shelf (and didn’t run it all that well with him healthy) and certainly don’t throw well enough with Burrow out of action. Tee Higgins and Tyler Boyd have proven to be solid targets this season, but without Burrow, there’s not a lot for them to do, and anything more than 10 points is an achievement for this group.

Betting Trends

Without Burrow, Cincinnati has been gold on the under. Despite totals in the low 40s, the Bengals have cashed on the under in four straight games, with none of those games going above 37 points. In their past four games, the Bengals have a total of just 40 points, and they’ve lost four of five against the spread.

The under is hitting just as well where Pittsburgh is concerned. The Steelers have cashed on the under in five of their past six games, with the sixth being a push against Cincinnati, the final Bengals game where Burrow was able to play for the entire contest. Since that win, Pittsburgh has failed to cover in three straight and has only topped 20 points once, doing so against Jacksonville. The Steelers only got to 27 in that game because Jacksonville couldn’t stop throwing interceptions (four in the contest), so it’s not like Pittsburgh is doing its share of scoring right now. Plus, the under has hit in four of five meetings in Cincinnati.

The Bengals play in Paul Brown Stadium, but perhaps it should be called Steeler Stadium or even Roethlisberger Field. Since the Bengals opened Paul Brown Stadium in 2000, the Steelers are 19-3 in Cincinnati and have covered in 16 of their past 21 trips to the Queen’s City.

Weather Report

This game might be disgusting, but the weather shouldn’t be, with clear skies on a 36 degree night in Cincinnati and wind blowing west-southwest at eight miles per hour.

Dan’s Pick to Cover the Spread

Nobody will blame you if you choose to turn on Netflix instead of putting yourself through this game, which looks like it could be a real train wreck. Both teams’ offenses look like something that was killed crossing the street at the moment, and it’s hard to justify giving 13 with the Steelers or taking 13 with the Bengals.

For me, I’m planning to hammer the under and not worry about trusting either team to get the job done. But if you want to pick a side here, Cincinnati’s at least playing decent defense right now, and Pittsburgh doesn’t look capable of putting up more than 21 points. That still leaves Cincinnati to score at least 8, which I’m not sure the Bengals can do, but I’ll gamble that they can stumble into 10 points here. Give me the Bengals. Note: Did you know that you could be wagering on games at -105 instead of -110? Check out our Betanysports Review for more info!

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