Which way will the pendulum swing?
That’s what Mountain State online bettors want to know when the Pittsburgh Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday in a battle of 1-1 teams.
The initial betting line is Pittsburgh at between -3.5 and -4 at most major West Virginia sportsbooks. Line shoppers may be able to nab that extra half point and get the Steelers at -3.5.
Can they stave off the changing of the guard? The Steelers have been projected to finish behind both the Baltimore Ravens and Cleveland Browns in the AFC North, but here come the improved Bengals, too.
Updated DraftKings WV AFC North division winner odds:
- Baltimore +110
- Cleveland +130
- Pittsburgh +600
- Cincinnati +2500
The Steelers and Bengals each won their opener and lost last week.
The Steelers’ 26-17 setback to the Las Vegas Raiders at -5.5 was eye-opening, for they allowed 382 passing yards to Derek Carr and an uncharacteristic 61-yard touchdown reception by Henry Ruggs.
Cincinnati was a road underdog against the Chicago Bears and trailed 20-3 after suffering four consecutive turnovers but snared a late back-door cover in a 20-17 loss.
Steelers Get A Nice Week 3 Boost
We found a huge value for moneyline players at BetMGM WV.
Pittsburgh is -200 on the moneyline, while Cincinnati is +165. The Steelers moneyline initially looks unplayable.
But the book has a prop that changes the odds if each team scores 10 points, which they likely will.
If the Bengals win and both teams score 10 or more points, they get boosted to +175. Not a big jump.
But if the Steelers win with both teams scoring 10 or more, they are improved to -115. That’s major. That’s the difference between being able to play a game or take a pass.
Pittsburgh backers can essentially lay -115 instead of -200, just as long as each team hits 10. That happens in nearly every NFL game.
We suggested here last week that Steelers receivers JuJu Smith-Schuster and Chase Claypool were good anytime scoring threats. Both returned money to Mountain State bettors.
Smith-Schuster did score, and Claypool exceeded his 55-yard prop total at Caesars Sportsbook WV by getting 70.
Claypool had nine targets last week and Schuster seven. They may be more involved this week.
Pittsburgh Injury Issues
Diontae Johnson, inexplicably left in the game for a meaningless last-second razzle-dazzle play, was injured and his status for this game is uncertain. That would give Smith-Schuster and Claypool more targets.
Watch them for anytime and first-score props as we get closer to the game.
As the week progressed, the Steelers received good news that Johnson and T.J. Watt, whose first-half groin injury took the spark out of the defense, did not suffer long-term setbacks. Check on their status closer to game time about this week.
Najee Harris took a backfield toss from quarterback Ben Roethlisberger into the end zone, and the Steelers will look to utilize him that way again. Harris has only 83 rushing yards in two games as the Steelers’ ground woes continue. But Harris showed excellent speed in taking the flip from Big Ben to the house.
Pat Freiermuth is emerging as a reliable tight end in the Heath Miller style. Watch for him to be more involved. He has made big catches to keep drives alive.
Roethlisberger is suffering from a pectoral injury. Will the discomfort affect him on deep balls? Possibly. The quarterback has expressed frustration over the team’s meager offensive production.
Betting On Steelers-Bengals At WV Sportsbooks
Bengals: Watch Burrow To Chase
The debate rages about whether the Bengals should have protected quarterback Joe Burrow (who missed the last six games last year with a torn ACL) with an offensive tackle via the fifth pick in the NFL Draft. They instead took star receiver Ja’Marr Chase, whom Burrow had thrown to at LSU.
So far, both sides have been right. Chase is increasingly comfortable and a threat for anytime scorer and first scorer. He has hit pay dirt twice in two games.
On the flip side, Burrow has been sacked nine times in two games. That increases his risk to be injured again. That also curtails two or three drives per game.
The Steelers and Bengals share a weird identical problem. Both try to develop a run game to protect fragile quarterbacks.
DraftKings reports that away underdogs are 13-5 against the spread over the first two weeks.
Both of these teams contributed to that stat. The Steelers at +5.5 defeated the Buffalo Bills in the opener. Cincinnati was +3.5 against Chicago and just squeezed by.
Cincinnati is 2-0 against the spread; Pittsburgh is 1-1.
Can Big Ben keep it up? Roethlisberger is 24-8 against the Bengals in his career, including 2-0 in the playoffs. But in the last meeting, his team was toppled 27-17, and not by Burrow, but by Ryan Finley.