Expect points early and often as the Pittsburgh Steelers (2-2-1) take their 5th-ranked offense to Paul Brown Stadium to do battle with the Cincinnati Bengals’ (4-1) 4th-ranked offense in Week 6 (October 14, 2018 at 1:00pm EST). Sportsbooks are believers in these high-powered offenses, setting the game total at a healthy 53.0, with the Bengals opening as 2.5-point favorites.
Pittsburgh Steelers Preview
The Steelers are scoring a prolific 28.6 points per game (5th). That number would be even higher if not for turnovers. Pittsburgh has committed 10 turnovers this season (29th), but they have at least been trending in the right direction since committing six in Week 1 against Cleveland.
Last week, they limited the damage to just one turnover in a dominant 41-17 home win over Atlanta. Ball security will be vital for Ben Roethlisberger (6 INTs) and the Steelers over the remainder of the year.
Pittsburgh’s defense played its best game of the season against Atlanta, holding the torrid Falcon offense (which is averaging nearly 27 points and over 390 yards per game) to just 17 points and 324 total yards. The pass rush was key for the Steelers, who sacked Matt Ryan six times. TJ Watt had three, alone, and is now tied for the NFL sack lead with his brother JJ Watt (6).
Even with that solid performance against Atlanta factored in, the Steeler defense is still near the bottom of the league, overall. Their performance against the run has been fine (105.0 rushing yards per game; 15th), but teams have generally been throwing the ball at will (296.2 passing yards per game; 29th) and piling up points (26.6 PPG; 25th).
Steelers vs Bengals Statistical Comparison
|28.6 (5th)||PPG||30.6 (4th)|
|405.0 (8th)||YPG||367.6 (17th)|
|84.0 (28th)||Rushing YPG||95.4 (23rd)|
|321.0 (4th)||Passing YPG||272.2 (15th)|
|26.6 (24th)||PPG Allowed||26.0 (20th)|
|401.2 (29th)||YPG Allowed||394.8 (25th)|
|105.0 (T15th)||Rushing YPG Allowed||118.2 (23rd)|
|296.2 (29th)||Passing YPG Allowed||276.6 (22nd)|
|-2 (27th)||Turnover Differential||+0 (T15th)|
Cincinnati Bengals Preview
Cincinnati’s offense has had no issue scoring points. Thanks mostly to an efficient passing attack, the Bengals are scoring 30.6 points per game (fourth). Andy Dalton has been very respectable for Cincinnati this season, accumulating 1,445 yards through the air (14th) with a 12:7 TD to INT ratio, good for a 94.9 passer rating.
As usual, Dalton has been able to rely on his All Pro #1 target, A.J. Green. His go-to receiver has brought in 26 passes for 409 receiving yards (23rd) and five TDs this season. But Green is far from Dalton’s only weapon. Tyler Boyd has developed into a solid #2 (30 catches, 393 yards, 2 TD) and Joe Mixon is leading a much-improved running game, which is averaging a healthy 4.3 yards per carry (12th in the NFL).
While the loss of TE Tyler Eifert (broken ankle) hurts, especially in the red zone, there are still multiple game-breakers on this team.
Defensively, the Bengals have been opportunistic (three defensive TDs), but mediocre on the whole.
They allow 26.0 points per game, ranking 21st in the league, and have been pretty bad against the run, allowing 118.2 rushing yards per game (23rd). Their pass defense has not been a strength, either, allowing 276.6 yards per game through the air (21st).
The optimists will point to last week’s effort against Miami as reason for confidence going forward. With star linebacker Vontaze Burfict back from suspension, Cincinnati was able to limit the Dolphins to just 297 total yards and 17 points, seven of which came on a punt return TD. It was the first time all season the Bengals held an opponent to under 375 yards or fewer than 23 points.
Pittsburgh squeaked out a win over the Bengals, 23-20, the last time these two teams played (December 4th, 2017). The Steelers were 4.5-point favorites in that game. It was their sixth straight head-to-head win over Cincinnati.