The Pittsburgh Steelers raced out of the gate this season, winning their first 11 games, but they are heading into the Monday night matchup coming off back-to-back losses. A trip to Cincinnati could be just what they need to get back on track.
Not surprisingly, the Bengals have struggled this season and it’s only gotten worse since losing star rookie quarterback Joe Burrow to a knee injury. The Bengals have lost five straight contests, dropping their record to 2-10-1, and they have scored 10 points or fewer in four of those five losses. Every week is a tough one for the Bengals but hosting the 11-2 Steelers is an especially daunting task.
Here are some props to consider for the Monday night matchup on Monkey Knife Fight.
Big Ben is averaging 253.2 passing yards per game and has been held under 275 yards in three of the past four games. As flawed as the Bengals may be, they are merely bad against the pass, ranking in the bottom seven in yards per game allowed and net yards per attempt allowed. Only five quarterbacks have thrown for more than 275 yards against the Bengals this season; in most cases, it’s because teams don’t need to throw against them that much to beat them, but that is probably going to be a factor in this game for the Steelers, too. The reason to like Roethlisberger to cover that number is that the Steelers running game can’t be trusted so the short passing game may be the way to effectively run out the clock.
Ryan Finley LESS THAN 185.5 PASSING YARDS
The 25-year-old Bengals quarterback did start three games in 2019 and was held under 185 yards in the first two before exploding for a 192-yard effort in his last start for the Bengals. To this point in his career, Finley is averaging 5.2 yards per pass attempt on 102 throws in the NFL. That’s not encouraging. Worse, the Steelers defense has been excellent against the pass, ranking second in yards against and second in net yards per attempt. They have held three teams to less than 185 yards passing in a game this season and Finley, who is likely to be overmatched, should be the fourth.
Eric Ebron LESS THAN 4.5 RECEPTIONS
Ebron has more than 50 receptions for the fourth time in the past five seasons and more than 500 receiving yards for the fifth time in the past six seasons. The Bengals have allowed five or more receptions to five tight ends this season and Ebron has recorded five or more receptions five times this season. In Week 15, that tilts the odds towards the under.
Tee Higgins MORE THAN 10.5 FANTASY POINTS
The Bengals rookie has been a consistent contributor pretty much since Week 2 and his average game includes 4.5 receptions and 59.8 receiving yards. Anything beyond that, not to mention scoring a touchdown, would push him over the number and as strong as the Steelers are against the pass, 16 receivers have managed to put up more than 10.5 ppr fantasy points against them.
JuJu Smith-Schuster +7.5 receiving yards vs. Diontae Johnson
This should be a very close matchup, with Johnson averaging 57.8 receiving yards per game and Smith-Schuster sitting on 50.4 receiving yards per game. Neither one is getting loose down the field consistently, which is apparently the domain of rookie Chase Claypool if anyone given Roethlisberger’s struggles to throw deep, but that tendency to throw short passes does make it a little more appealing to take the underdog, Smith-Schuster, to keep it close.
*The numbers in this article are subject to change at anytime leading up to kick-off*