September, 16th 2013 TV: ESPN
The NFL universe will focus their attention on the AFC North in this week’s edition of Monday Night Football as the Steelers travel just one state over to face the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium.
Few teams had a tougher Week 1 than Pittsburgh, which lost in their home opener at Heinz Field to a Tennessee Titans team that seemed to win by default. Not only did Pittsburgh lose 16-9 in one of the games lowest scoring contests from last week, but the team suffered a several devastating blows on the injury front.
Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey will miss the rest of the season after tearing his MCL and ACL in Sunday’s loss. Linebacker Larry Foote will also miss the rest of the year with a ruptured bicep, along with running back LaRod Stephens-Howling who also suffered a torn ACL. On top of all that, Steelers kicker Shane Suisham is out for several weeks with a hamstring injury. Yeah, it has been a tough past week for Pittsburgh.
There is not much good to say about the Pittsburgh offense in Week 1 loss. The Steelers were manhandled at the line and could not anything going on offense, despite the Titans committing a meat headed safety on the opening kickoff. Pittsburgh compiled just 194 yards of total offense, including a terrible 31 rushing yards.
However, the defense looked fantastic and kept the Titans under wraps for most of the game, and gave the Steelers a chance to win until late into the fourth quarter. Tennessee was held to just 229 yards of total offense.
Cincinnati, a team many experts picked to win the AFC North this season also did not get off to a strong start to the season. The Bengals faced the Chicago Bears at Soldier Field in Week 1 and led much of the game, but the Bears rallied late in the fourth to win 24-21.
Cincinnati outgained Chicago 340 to 323 in total yardage but gave up three turnovers to the Bears one. Quarterback Andy Dalton contributed two interceptions to that total. However, he was rather efficient otherwise, going 26 for 33 for 282 yards and two touchdowns. A.J. Green was and will continue to be the main beneficiary of this pass first offense. The third year wide out hauled in 9 catches for 162 yards and two scored in the loss.
The Bengals front seven tried to get after Bears QB Jay Cutler early and often but were unsuccessful all afternoon. Cutler was not sacked once. Still, Cincinnati has an excellent defense and perhaps the best defensive line the NFL. The Bears o-line may be better this season than most expect.
Cincinnati is relatively healthy heading into Week 2. They may get a nice boost on their offensive line this week with the possible return of left tackle Andrew Whitworth who looks on track to make his season debut on Monday Night.
Opened at Cincinnati -6.5 and has been pushed to -7 at many sportsbooks. The public loves the Bengals in this one. The total is the lowest out of any Week 2 game which is listed at most shops at 40.5 or 41.
There is no doubt a chip on the shoulder of the Bengals who would love to beat the tar out of the Steelers in primetime. Pittsburgh has been the thorn in the side of many teams in the AFC North for years, and there is no love lost between these rivals. They will have a lot of extra motivation in this game, in addition to the terrible thought of falling to 0-2 on the season.
This low total is warranted in this matchup as both teams will likely have a hard time doing much offensively. Both defenses are stout against the run, and both the Bengals and Steelers have muddled backfields with a number of questionable options.
The Steelers defense looked strong in the opening game despite the defeat, and while the loss of linebacker Larry Foote will hurt, rookie Jarvis Jones looks poised to step into a starting role. Safety Troy Polamalu and the rest of the secondary were impressive against an underrated offense of the Titans. Likewise, Cincinnati’s defense did more than enough to put their offense in a position to win on Sunday, but offensive turnovers ultimately lost the game for the Bengals.
The Steelers offense is an easier matchup for the Bengals than the Bears, but I would not sleep on them as a pushover just yet. Yes, their offensive line is in shambles, but they still have a two-time Super Bowl winning quarterback in Ben Roethlisberger and some talented young wide receivers in Emmanuelle Sanders and Antonio Brown.
I think this game will come down to the wire and will be decided via field goal late into the game. I like the Steelers to cover, but not necessarily win, although they certainly have a chance to do so if they defense can keep the Andy Dalton to A.J. Green connection at bay. Also, the under 41 looks like an attractive bet with two strong defenses facing each other.
Take Pittsburgh +7 and Under 41 TopBet.eu.
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