Mike Tomlin’s Steelers consistently lose games against inferior competition. Last year, while scratching and clawing for a playoff spot late in the season they lost to both the Broncos and Raiders – ultimately ruling them out of the 2018 postseason.
The year prior, when the whole gang of Ben Roethlisberger, Antonio Brown and Le’Veon Bell were still together – they lost a playoff game at home to Jacksonville.
Spread: Steelers -3.5 (-103), Bengals +3.5 (-120)
Over under: 45 total (-110)
Money line: Steelers -177, Bengals +143
Heading into this season, the thought was that the Steelers defense would keep them in most games. But through three weeks, you could easily make the case that the Pittsburgh defense is the most overrated unit in pro football.
The Steelers are 27th in the league in points allowed per game (28.3), 27th in rushing yards allowed per game (139.3) and 30th in passing yards allowed per game (302.7).
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The Bengals defense isn’t much better overall (they’re 26th in points allowed per game at 27.7) but they have at least shown signs of life defending the pass as they’re 12th in the league in passing yards allowed per game (237.7).
You usually want to steer clear of picking a bad team on the road, but I’m going to lean toward the quarterback and head coach I trust more in this spot.
Andy Dalton has quietly put together a decent first month of the season as he has adapted well to new head coach Zac Taylor’s schemes. Dalton threw for 418 yards with two touchdowns and zero picks in the Bengals’ 21-20 Week 1 loss at Seattle. He wasn’t great against the Bills and 49ers strong defenses, but he usually does enough to keep Cincinnati within striking distance of a win late (the Bengals are 2-1 ATS so far this season and were a respectable 9-7 ATS last season).
Taylor, who was the QB coach for the high-flying Rams last season, hasn’t won a game in the NFL as a head man yet – but tonight could be the night. Tomlin looks entirely burned out in his 12th season in Pittsburgh, and the early returns on new quarterback Mason Rudolph aren’t great.
The play: Bengals +3.5