PITTSBURGH STEELERS (9-2)
at CINCINNATI BENGALS (5-6)
Paul Brown Stadium Ė Cincinnati, OH
Kickoff: Monday, 8:25 p.m. ET
Line: Pittsburgh -4.5, Total: 43.5
The Bengals will be trying to get back to the .500 mark with a home victory over the Steelers on Monday.
Pittsburgh has quietly rolled to a 9-2 record this season, which is pretty surprising considering the fact that many people were ripping the team after a home loss against Jacksonville in Week 5. The Steelers could easily end up as the top seed in the AFC, so itís time to start taking them very seriously. The Bengals, however, are playing for a spot in the playoffs and will be amped up for this meeting with a rival on Monday. This is a primetime game, so Cincinnati has a chance to show the world that they are for real. When these teams met earlier in the year, the Steelers beat the Bengals 29-14 as four-point home favorites. Pittsburgh has now won five straight games against Cincinnati, and the Steelers are 4-0-1 ATS in those contests. One trend that favors Pittsburgh when looking at this game is the fact that the team is 25-12 ATS after allowing six or more yards per play in its previous game under head coach Mike Tomlin. Cincinnati, however, is an impressive 33-20 ATS after a win by 10 points or more under Marvin Lewis.
The Steelers are on a roll right now and a lot of that has to do with the play of both QB Ben Roethlisberger and WR Antonio Brown. Roethlisberger struggled at the beginning of the season, but he has thrown for eight touchdowns and only two picks over his past two games. He threw for 351 yards with four scores against the Packers last week, and he now faces a Bengals team that he played well against just five games ago. In that win, Roethlisberger threw for 224 yards with two touchdowns and no picks. WR Antonio Brown has, however, been making life on Big Ben extremely easy. Over the past two weeks, Brown has racked up 20 receptions for 313 yards and an absurd five touchdowns. He has been unguardable wherever he lines up in the offense, and itís hard to imagine the Bengals slowing him down. He caught four passes for 65 yards and a score when the teams met on Oct. 22, but you can always count on him to perform even better when playing on the national stage. And RB LeíVeon Bell should also be able to shred the Bengals here, so that will make Pittsburgh unpredictable. On defense, the Steelers should be fine if they can contain WR A.J. Green.
The Steelers have been hot lately, but the Bengals are the team playing for something more in this game. Cincinnati really needs to win this one, as the team can put itself in great shape for a playoff spot with a victory. That means that this Bengals offense must show up, as the Steelers have certainly been clicking on that side of the ball. One guy that can help Cincinnati here is RB Joe Mixon. The rookie is coming off of his best game as a pro, as he rushed for 114 yards and a touchdown against Cleveland. He also added three receptions for 51 yards. If Mixon is really running well against Pittsburgh then there will be less pressure on QB Andy Dalton and WR A.J. Green to make plays. They should, however, have no trouble doing that either way. Green had just three catches for 41 yards against the Steelers in a loss to them in October, but he and Dalton both know the stakes in this game. The Bengals need a win, so the teamís two best players know they canít disappear. On defense, finding a way to slow down Antonio Brown has to be the first priority. The Bengals arenít going to win if Brown continues to play the way he has been.