PITTSBURGH STEELERS (0-1)
at CINCINNATI BENGALS (0-1)
Kickoff: Monday, 8:40 p.m. ET
Line: Cincinnati -6.5, Total: 40.5
Both the Steelers and the Bengals will be looking to find a place in the win column when the two square off Monday night at Paul Brown Stadium.
The last time these AFC North foes met on Dec. 23 at Heinz Field, the result was a 13-10 win-and-cover for Cincinnati. Prior to that game, Pittsburgh had five straight victories (SU and ATS) over the Bengals including a 24-17 win in Cincinnati earlier in the season. The only touchdown the Bengals scored in their December win was on a 17-yard interception return by Leon Hall. Steelers WR Antonio Brown caught the gameís only offensive touchdown on a 60 yarder thrown by Ben Roethlisberger, who also threw two picks in the game. Cincy QB Andy Dalton threw for 278 yards, but he also tossed two interceptions. The gameís best performer was easily WR A.J. Green who caught 10 passes (on 18 targets) for 116 yards. Each team turned the ball over three times in what was a very sloppy contest. The Bengals will be the hosts in this one and since 1992, they are just 10-22 ATS (31%) in September home games and 4-15 ATS (21%) off a road loss by three points or less. They are also 58-86 ATS (40%) versus division opponents in that same timeframe. The Steelers are only 3-10 ATS (23%) on the road in the first month of the season under Mike Tomlin. Although they have owned the Bengals historically, thereís a clean slate now that Cincinnati was able to pick up a win last year.
Which NFC North foe will prevail on Sunday? For the answer, connect to NFL Best Bets for all the StatFox Experts picks throughout the 2013 season and playoffs. During the 2012 campaign, the experts combined for a 52% ATS success rate in NFL Best Bets, highlighted by StatFox Brian's 60% ATS mark (36-24-2 ATS) and StatFox Dave's 53% ATS accuracy (44-41-4). StatFox Scott and StatFox Gary dominated NFL Totals, with Scott going 57% (38-29-1) and Gary cranking out a 56% clip (28-22-1) during the season, capped off by a perfect 4-0 run in the postseason.
The Steelers started off their home opener against the Titans with a safety, but it was all downhill from there. Pittsburgh failed to score a touchdown until 1:23 left in the fourth quarter when Ben Roethlisberger connected with WR Jerricho Cotchery on a 4-yard touchdown pass. They managed a total of 195 yards in the 16-9 defeat. Ben Roethlisberger threw for 191 yards and a touchdown, but also took an interception and was sacked five times. WR Antonio Brown turned in the only decent performance for the Steelers' offense with five receptions for 71 yards. Pittsburgh, who is still missing top RB Le'Veon Bell (foot) and TE Heath Miller (knee), rushed for just 32 yards on 15 attempts last week, and RB Isaac Redman coughed up the football on one of those carries. With RB LaRod Stephens-Howling and starting C Maurkice Pouncey both tearing their ACLs during Sunday's loss, ratcheting up the ground game won't get any easier against a strong Bengals front seven. RB Jonathan Dwyer was re-signed to take some of the burden off Redman and backup RB Felix Jones. Although they didnít let up many points in Week 1, the Steelers defense failed to force a single turnover and sacked Jake Locker only once. They also lost starting ILB Larry Foote with a season-ending biceps injury. It was a miserable performance on both sides of the ball for Mike Tomlinís team and if they show up to Cincinnati looking like they did on Sunday, then itís going to be a long night.
The Bengals had complete control in their season opener against the Bears, but blew a 21-10 lead in the second half and lost 24-21. Andy Dalton threw a costly interception on a jump ball to Mohamed Sanu early in the fourth and it ended up being a huge game changer. Dalton was 26-of-33 in the game with 282 yards and two touchdowns, but he also threw two interceptions. The Bengals couldnít get it going on the ground all day either. RB BenJarvus Green-Ellis rushed for a mere 25 yards and a touchdown on a 14 carries (1.8 YPC) while rookie RB Giovani Bernard picked up 22 yards on four carries. With two offensive linemen questionable with knee injuries (OT Andrew Whitworth and G Mike Pollak), rushing yards might be hard to come by again. Luckily for Cincinnati, their superstar wideout A.J. Green dominated the Bears by hauling in nine receptions for 162 yards and two touchdowns. The Bengals defense stuffed the run nicely (2.9 yards per carry), but forced just one turnover and was not able to sack Chicago QB Jay Cutler even once, something every team did at will in 2012. Cincinnati didnít look miserable in its opener, but has some kinks to work out before Monday arrives.