Cincinnati at Pittsburgh
Sunday, 1:30 pm PT - CBS
CRIS Opener: Pittsburgh -6 O/U 41
CRIS Current: Pittsburgh -5 O/U 40.5
The Pittsburgh Steelers got a win and cover against the Chiefs last week, but it wasn’t because their offense was fixed. Pittsburgh has struggle week after week on the offensive side of the football, averaging less than 20 points per game (#22 in the NFL) despite their bevy of skill position talent. Much of the problem has come from the QB position, where, quite frankly, Ben Roethlisberger looks old. And the quotes coming out of the Steelers locker room have this bettor very concerned with the fragile mental state of this team right now.
Check out this Roethlisberger quote, talking about former tight end Heath Miller, who retired two years ago. “You develop that relationship with Heath over years and years in practice. Plus the type of person and teammate he was. He was probably the best teammate I’ve ever played with and one of the best men I’ve ever known in my life.” Contrast that quote with the Martavis Bryant ‘I want to be traded’ rumors. Note the modest production from rookie WR JuJu Smith Schuster.
Right now, Antonio Brown is the only consistent downfield weapon that they have. RB LeVeon Bell had 35 touches on the Steelers 63 offensive snaps last week – too many for a balanced offense. In three October starts, Big Ben has a 2-to-7 TD-INT ratio, and he currently ranks #30 out of 32 in passer rating. Both TD passes during that span came on poorly thrown balls – both could have been INT’s! And it’s surely worth noting that the Steelers lauded home field edge at Heinz Field isn’t so great these days. Mike Tomlin’s squad is just 2-5 ATS in their last seven regular season tries as home chalk.
While the Steelers offense continues to struggle, the Bengals appear to have figured it out! Andy Dalton threw four picks without a TD over the first two weeks before Marvin Lewis fired offensive coordinator Ken Zampese after facing a ‘near mutiny’ in the locker room. The Red Rifle completed only 54% of his passes while averaging just 6.0 yards per attempt in those games.
In the three games under new OC Bill Lazor, there’s been a night and day difference. Dalton’s completion percentage is up to 73%, he’s averaging 8.9 yards per attempt with a 7-2 TD-INT ratio. Tight end Tyler Kroft is developing into a solid weapon over the middle for Dalton; a team that isn’t missing injured tight end Tyler Eifert as much as they did last year. This sure feels like a field goal game. Too many points!