Both teams entering the game at 0-3 and still in search of their first win of the season will only add to the intensity when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals in a rivalry game Monday night. Currently, the Steelers are listed as 3.5-point home favorites. The game also has an over/under that’s set at 45 points.
If you’re the Bengals, history isn’t exactly on your side Monday night. The Steelers have dominated this rivalry for several decades and currently hold an eight-game winning streak in head-to-head meetings between these two teams.
On the bright side, Cincinnati has actually had more success on the road than at home. The Bengals have just one win in their last 10 home games against the Steelers but have actually won twice in their last seven trips to the Steel City.
With Ben Roethlisberger ruled out for the rest of the season, Pittsburgh’s season is in the hands of Mason Rudolph. The second-year pro made his first career start last week against the 49ers with mixed results. He threw two touchdown passes but also threw an interception, managing 176 passing yards while connecting on just 14 of his 27 passes.
Of course, it’s unfair to put everything on Rudolph. Outside of JuJu Smith-Schuster, the Steelers still don’t have any reliable wide receivers. The Pittsburgh running game has also been slow to get going this season. Through three games, James Conner is averaging less than three yards per carry. The Steelers are going to need a lot more out of Conner and the running game if they want to help out their young quarterback and get things turned around after their 0-3 start to the season.
Big Cat Trouble
The Bengals have been masters of their own demise during their journey to starting the year 0-3. Cincinnati held leads in the fourth quarter in two of their three losses this year but failed to hang on for the win. The Bengals have struggled to keep the running game of opposing teams contained, which ultimately opens up space in their secondary and makes them vulnerable against the pass as well, a scenario that has hurt them at the worst possible time.
The Cincinnati offense is having the opposite problem in that they can’t seem to get their rushing attack going. There were high hopes for Joe Mixon heading into the season, but he’s averaging just 2.4 yards per carry. The saving grace for the Bengals is that Andy Dalton is off to a good start. With A.J. Green sidelined with an injury, Tyler Boyd and John Ross have become a potent receiving tandem. However, sacks and turnovers continue to plague the Cincinnati offense.
Same Old Story
There is hope for the Bengals to snap their losing streak to the Steelers because Pittsburgh looks vulnerable. Unfortunately for the Bengals, they haven’t exactly proven that they can make winning plays at the right time. At home, the Steelers should be able to capitalize on some of Cincinnati’s flaws. Bet on the Steelers to win and cover the 3.5-point spread on Monday.
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