When and where: November 24, 2019, Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH, 1:00 PM ET
The Pittsburgh Steelers put a dramatic week in the rearview on Sunday when heading on a road trip to Paul Brown Stadium for an AFC North divisional showdown with the Cincinnati Bengals. Getting back to football feels like the right thing to do for a Steelers team dealing with the fallout from quarterback Mason Rudolph’s violent scuffle with Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett.
The Steelers had a four-game winning streak snapped in that loss, which put their playoff hopes in great peril. Meanwhile, the Bengals have yet to win a game this season. They are coming off a 17-10 loss on the road to the Oakland Raiders.
Did Rudolph deserve a suspension?Steelers quarterback Mason Rudolph started a fight last Thursday night, and Cleveland Browns defensive end Myles Garrett finished it.
There is no question Garrett should have been suspended for escalating things to the point where he used a helmet as a weapon to hit another player not wearing a helmet in the head. Steelers offensive lineman Maurkice Pouncey also deserved a suspension for retaliating against Garrett. An argument could even be made that Rudolph deserved a suspension that would have kept him off the field for Sunday’s game against the Bengals.
The Steelers will try to put a week filled with drama in the rearview for an AFC North divisional game. Some good news for Rudolph is the fact that he won’t have Garrett and a nasty Browns defensive front breathing down his neck in this game. The Bengals are a moribund team on both sides of the ball, but they have really disappointed on defense. The unit is averaging the least sacks per game in the league, and they are giving up more yards on the ground than any other team.
Even if injured running back James Conner sits out of the game, the Steelers should have no issues running roughshod over the Cincinnati defense with Jaylen Samuels in the backfield.
On the defensive side of the ball, the Steelers have the third-best turnover margin in the league. Their secondary has been a tremendous unit in a season filled with turnover and injuries. Safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is also showing himself to be worth the first-round draft pick the Steelers shipped to Miami earlier in the season.
The unit will be facing a Bengals team led by a rookie quarterback in Ryan Finley on a tanking roster. An important injury note is Rudolph likely not having leading receiver Juju Smith-Schuster on the field as he continues to heal up from a knee and head injury.
Will the Bengals win a game?The odds of the Bengals winning a game before the season ends are dwindling by the week. They had a great opportunity to steal a win on the road against the Raiders last week, but they couldn’t come up with the crucial plays on offense when it mattered. The Steelers are next on the itinerary before the Bengals get a crack at the New York Jets, Cleveland Browns and Miami Dolphins.
So there will be other opportunities for them to avoid a winless record.
Finley is expected to continue starting over Andy Dalton as the staff kicks the tires on the franchise’s future.
Turnovers have been the main killer for the Bengals this season. There is nothing worse than losing a game due to self-inflicted wounds. Such has been the case for a Bengals team with the third-worst turnover margin in the league.
Finley’s first order of business against a stingy Steelers defense is ball security. He has to avoid forcing errant throws and also understand when the pocket is compromised to the point where he needs to give up on plays. His dual-threat abilities as both a runner and passer make him a dynamic player, but he also needs to reel it in a bit and make better decisions.
The Bengals showed some defensive fight against the Raiders last week. Ultimately, it wasn’t enough for the team to come away with the victory. They’ll try to do better with no Smith-Schuster on the field for the Steelers on Sunday, which should be significant for the pass defense. Perhaps the team can load the box to stop the run while daring Rudolph to beat him through the air with someone else.
Finley will still be short of weapons as well. Wideout A.J. Green hasn’t looked any closer to returning, and Auden Tate missed practice on Wednesday as he continues to work his way back from a concussion.
The top supporting trends for this game, found on Covers.com, are:
- Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games after accumulating less than 90 yards rushing in their previous game.
- Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 games on field turf.
- Steelers are 6-2 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
- Steelers are 5-2 ATS in their last 7 games against teams in the AFC North.
- Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games following a straight up loss.
- Bengals are 2-5 ATS in their last 7 games overall.
- Bengals are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 games on field turf.
- Bengals are 0-4 ATS in their last 4 home games.