Cincinnati Bengals vs Pittsburgh Steelers: Predictions and Odds (NFL Week 4)
My prediction for the final score is Steelers 24, Bengals 20.
How to Watch: Bengals vs Steelers
What: Cincinnati Bengals at Pittsburgh Steelers
When: Monday Night Football, September 30 at 8:15 p.m. ET
Where: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
How (TV): ESPN
Latest point spread: Bengals +4, Steelers -4
Not sure if this Week 4 Monday Night Football battle of winless AFC North teams is exactly what the NFL schedulers had in mind when they were picking nationally televised games, but this is a game that could actually turn out to be way more exciting than it appears.
That is because the 0-3 Cincinnati Bengals will be facing the 0-3 Pittsburgh Steelers for the 100th time during the 100th NFL season, so for at least that reason this could be a worthwhile game to watch.
Another watchable factor here is seeing whether Steelers’ backup quarterback Mason Rudolph (filling in for the injured Ben Roethlisberger) can get the job done against the Bengals’ veteran passer Andy Dalton, who seems to have more bark than bite these days.
Let’s take a quick look at how these two teams are set up for their Week 4 matchups.
The 0-3-0 Cincinnati Bengals
The Cincinnati Bengals seem to like giving the ball away during their 2019 games, having 8 total turnovers on the year (tied for most in the NFL), and that is definitely not helping them win any games at all.
In each of his nine seasons in the NFL (all with the Bengals), quarterback Andy Dalton seems to put up respectable numbers in every category but the W column, and for that he will be remembered as a mediocre quarterback unless he can begin to turn passing yardage into wins.
The Bengals’ best receiver, A.J. Green, is out with an ankle injury, but Cincinnati still has one of the league’s better pass catchers in John Ross, but regardless, a more effective game from running backs Joe Mixon and Bernard Giovani are a must if Cincinnati is going to take the road win in Pittsburgh this Sunday.
The 0-3-0 Pittsburgh Steelers
The Pittsburgh Steelers may be winless, too, but they are coming close to victory every time and have shown signs of hunger and competence, for instance they had 5 takeaways in their Week 3 close loss to the San Francisco 49ers.
The Steelers are now tied for 2nd most total takeaways this season with 7, which doesn’t bode well for the giveaway heavy Bengals, but without running back James Conner stepping up to the same level that receiver Juju Smith-Schuster has been consistently delivering it won’t really matter.
Bottom line, these Steelers are now Mason Rudolph’s team to lead and this is his home game against an arguably inferior opponent to win, and with head coach Mike Tomlin on the winless franchise hot seat right now, it would be an incredibly sweet victory to snag.
What’s at Stake
These two teams have met 99 total times (including 2 postseason games), with Pittsburgh winning 64 of those games and Cincinnati winning 35 times.
The Steelers have beaten the Bengals in 11 of their last matchups, the latest one being the last game of the 2018 season in December by a score of 16-13.
If the Bengals win this matchup, they’ll move to 1-3-0 and rise out of the AFC North winless basement, which could at least bring a little hope to fans in Cincinnati.
But if the Steelers come out on top, then they’ll move to 1-3-0 and regain a little of the dignity they have lost by going winless after three games, and the AFC North will look a little more competitive, at least for a minute.
Questions to Answer
Who’s favored to win this Week 4 Bengals-Steelers matchup?
Which team has a better offense? Defense? Special teams?
Which team’s quarterback is more likely to lead his team to victory?
We’re going to briefly compare the Bengals and the Steelers next and attempt to answer those questions and more.
Offensive Stats Comparison
Cincinnati Bengals Overall Offense
- Ranked 26th overall in 2018
- Ranked 18th overall in 2019
Passing attack: The Cincinnati Bengals have the 3rd best passing attack in the league right now, averaging 308.7 yards per game through the air.
Quarterback Andy Dalton is playing well, currently the 3rd best passer in the league, now with 81 completions for 979 yards and 5 touchdowns with 3 picks.
The Bengals leading receiver after three games is John Ross, who has 13 catches for 292 yards and 3 touchdowns, currently ranked 4th among receivers.
Rushing attack: The Bengals’ rushing attack is the worst in the NFL, ranked 32nd after averaging just 41.7 yards on the ground each game.
Running back Joe Mixon is only averaging 2.7 yards per carry, ranked 46th among his peers, so far with 32 total touches for 87 yards and no touchdowns.
Cincinnati has scored 54 total points this season, or 18 per game, which is the 25th best total in the league.
Cincinnati Offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 4: offensive tackles Cordy Glenn (concussion) and Andre Smith (groin),
Injury notes: wide receiver A.J. Green (ankle) guard Alex Redmond (suspension) are listed as OUT, offensive tackle Jonah Williams (shoulder – labrum) is listed as PUP-R while running back Rodney Anderson (knee-ACL), offensive tackle O’Shea Dugas (undisclosed), have been placed on injured reserve.
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Offense
- Ranked 4th overall in 2018
- Ranked 30th overall in 2019
Passing attack: Pittsburgh has the 26th ranked passing attack right now after averaging 205.3 yards through the air every game.
Quarterback Mason Rudolph has done an okay job stepping in for the injured Roethlisberger, and in one-and-a-half games has completed 26 passes for 286 yards and 4 touchdowns with 2 interceptions.
The Steelers’ best receiver is Juju Smith-Schuster, who has caught 14 passes for 243 yards and a 76-yard touchdown in three games.
Rushing attack: Pittsburgh has the 29th ranked rushing attack, averaging 64.0 yards per game.
James Conner is the Steelers’ best runner and currently the 41st best in the NFL with 34 carries for 97 yards, averaging just 2.9 yards per carry, also with 11 catches for 70 yards and 1 total touchdown on the season.
Pittsburgh has scored 49 points in 2019, averaging 16.3 per game, which is the 27th best total in the league.
Pittsburgh Offensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 4: tight end Vance McDonald (shoulder)
Injury notes: quarterback Ben Roethlisberger (elbow) and tight end Xavier Grimble (calf) have been placed on injured reserve.
With a fill-in quarterback, the Steelers are at a disadvantage for this one, and Andy Dalton’s offense will have the edge on Sunday.
Defensive Stats Comparison
Cincinnati Bengals Overall Defense
- Ranked 32nd overall in 2018
- Ranked 27th overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Bengals have the 12th best pass attack this year, allowing 237.7 yards through the air per game.
Cincinnati’s defense has 2 interceptions and they have 5 sacks total.
Run coverage: The Bengals are the 31st best team against the run right now (or second worst), allowing opponents to run for 168.7 yards per game.
Cincinnati has allowed their opponents to score 83 total points, or 27.7 per game, which is 26th least in the NFL.
Bengals Defensive Players to Watch
Keep an eye out for middle linebacker Preston Brown, who already has 24 tackles (T-18th most in the NFL) as well as a forced fumble and a fumble recovery.
Rudolph beware, there is a sack monster end on the Bengals D-line named Sam Hubbard who has 2.0 sacks in three games and a fumble recovery.
Cornerback William Jackson could also be a thorn in Rudolph’s side on Sunday, already with an interception and 3 passes defended plus 5 tackles.
Bengals Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 4: defensive ends Carlos Dunlap (hamstring), Sam Hubbard (foot), Carl Lawson (hamstring) and Kerry Wynn (concussion), defensive tackle Ryan Glasgow (thigh), cornerback B.W. Webb (forearm), safety Shawn Williams
Injury notes: cornerback Darqueze Dennard (knee) is listed as PUP-R, while defensive tackle Niles Scott (undisclosed) and cornerback Darius Phillips (knee) have been placed on injured reserve.
Pittsburgh Steelers Overall Defense
- Ranked 6th overall in 2018
- Ranked 29th overall in 2019
Pass coverage: The Steelers’ defense is 30th against the pass, allowing opponents to throw for an average of 302.7 yards per game.
Pittsburgh’s defense has 2 interceptions on opposing quarterbacks and they have 6 total sacks after three weeks.
Run coverage: The Steelers are 27th best against the run, allowing opponents to rush for an average of 139.3 yards per game.
Pittsburgh has allowed their opponents to score 85 total points, which is 27th most in the NFL.
Steelers Defensive Players to Watch
Two of the best tacklers in the league play for the Steelers – rookie line backer Devin Bush, who has 28 tackles and 3 fumble recoveries and strong safety Terrell Edmunds, who also has 28 tackles, tied for 6th most in the league.
Defensive end Stephen Tuitt has chased down and sacked opposing quarterbacks 3.5 times and chances are he will do it again against Dalton.
Keep watching newly acquired free safety Minkah Fitzpatrick, who has an interception, 2 passes defended, a forced fumble and 5 tackles already.
Steelers Defensive Injuries
Listed as questionable for Week 4: linebackers Anthony Chickillo (foot), Jayrone Elliott (hamstring) and Vince Williams (hamstring), cornerback Joe Haden (shoulder)
Injury notes: linebacker Ryan Shazier (spine) is listed as PUP-R, while defensive end Lavon Hooks (Achilles) and safety Sean Davis (shoulder – Labrum) have been placed on injured reserve.
Neither of these two teams has a defense to write home about, but the Steelers seem to be healthier right now so they will have a slight advantage against the Bengals in Week 4.
Special Teams Stats Comparison
Cincinnati’s punter, Kevin Huber, is in his eleventh NFL season, all with the Bengals, and this season he has punted 15 times for a net average of 41.2 yards per punt, which was the 21st best in the league.
Pittsburgh’s punter, Jordan Berry, is in his fifth NFL season, and this year he has punted 16 times for a net average of 40.5 yards per punt, T-24th best in the league.
Cincinnati’s placekicker, Randy Bullock, is in his seventh NFL season, fourth with the Bengals.
Bullock has made 4-of-6 field goals this season, his longest a 43 yarder, and so far, he has missed no extra point attempts (6/6).
Pittsburgh’s placekicker Chris Boswell is a former Pro Bowler and is in his fifth season with the Steelers.
Boswell is 5-for-5 this season, his longest a 46-yarder, and he has missed no extra point attempts (4/4).
Cincinnati’s punt returner, wide receiver Alex Erickson, is ranked 20th in punt return average this season.
Erickson has returned 6 punts for 42 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 7.0 yards per return, his longest for 11 yards.
Pittsburgh’s punt returner, wide receiver Ryan Switzer, is ranked 38th in punt return average this season.
Switzer has returned 2 punts for 1 yards and no touchdowns, averaging 0.5 yards per return, his longest for 1 yard.
Special Teams Advantage
The Steelers have the better field goal kicker and are as good or better in the other categories, so they have the special teams advantage on Sunday.
Final Game Analysis
Why Will the Bengals Win this Game?
The Cincinnati Bengals will win this game because when you look at the numbers after three weeks, they are actually the better team right now.
With a (barely) superior offense and defense, the Bengals have no excuse for not making this one close, but they do seem to have a habit of snatching losses out of the jaws of victory.
If the Bengals defense can intimidate Rudolph and Dalton can take advantage of a (temporarily?) weak Steelers defense, Cincinnati can totally win this one on the road and end their drought of wins.
Why Will the Steelers Win this Game?
The Pittsburgh Steelers will win this one simply because they have won 16 straight Monday Night Football games at home in a row, so why stop now?
Nothing against this Bengals team that is highly beatable – especially if the Steelers struggling defense can get after Dalton and put pressure on his every throw.
The key to a Steelers win on Sunday is with Rudolph – if he can get comfortable being the main man under center and simultaneously inspire Conner and tight end Vance McDonald to play their A-games, then victory is certain and this hometown crowd will be ecstatic to see it as they start speculating on the comeback trail in their future.
This Game Goes to the
Pittsburgh Steelers by 4, the Bengals will not be able to get it done on the road at the three rivers junction.
John Breech of CBS Sports predicts the score as Bengals 30, Steelers 27.
My prediction for the final score is Steelers 24, Bengals 20.
Current Odds Listed for Week 4: Bengals vs Steelers
|Sportsbook||CIN Bengals||PIT Steelers|
|Sportsbook||CIN Bengals +3||PIT Steelers -3|
|Sportsbook||Over 45||Under 45|