Well, yesterday was frustrating. The missed extra point for the Pats cost us a push on that selection of the treble, Kenny Stills was on 24 yards in the 1st quarter before pulling his hamstring, Breshad Perriman also did his hammy early on leaving no chance on his TD (which was already a long shot) – Patrick Mahomes. 315 yards when we had 316.5… and while it might not have made any difference the QB change in Washington killed their whole offense and scarpered the Paul Richardson bet.
On the positive side, the teaser came in, 2 of 3 on the tight trixie came in which gave a little profit. Will Dissly the NB came in nice and early in that game, and the Giants props both came in fairly easily as well.
Overall on the night 0.6 units down by my maths.
I also stank on Draftkings, but that’s neither here nor there.
Bengals (+3.5) @ Steelers: 45
+/- 3 is available on Redzone
Just a couple of years ago these were the two teams fighting it out for the AFC North and they even met in the wildcard match which the Bengals threw away in traumatic fashion. It’s not a rivalry as such, because (I actually agree a little with Dameshek on this one) the Bengals never beat the fucking Steelers and they’re more bothered about the Ravens and the Pats. But for Bengals fans this side of the pond it’s the game(s) they want to win the most each year.
If someone told me we’d have the same record as the Steelers in week 4 I’d be quite happy with that, I would not have figured they’d be at 0-3. Us (the Bengals)… sure, that wasn’t out of the realms of possibility. But here we are. Luckily for both teams that division hasn’t exactly been stellar so far so both are still only 2 games behind the top of the division.
Incidentally both teams have played the 49ers and the Seahawks so far this year. The Bengals lost by 1 in Seattle, the Steelers lost by 4 at home but lost Big Ben during the game. The Bengals got destroyed at home by the 49ers losing by 41-17, the Steelers forced 5 turnovers in San Fran and lost by 4 points. Make of that what you will.
This is a really tough preview for me to write, a) because I’m not sure I have any idea on either team and b) I want to take victory laps on saying Conner and Juju wouldn’t be very good this year but doing that will inevitably lead to them smashing shit up tonight.
I hope Mr. Hoffman appreciates my un-biased preview of this game, it’s tough to fight through the disgust when writing about his team…
The Steelers come into this one without their starting QB after Big Ben wimped out with an apparently elbow injury which has required surgery and terribly, unfortunately put him out for the season. I can’t wait for a summer of retirement speculation despite the fact he’s said he’ll be seeing out his contract.
So that means that Mason Rudolph makes his second start for the Steelers. He got decent reviews after coming in during the Seahawks game and throwing a couple of TDs to Vance McDonald, and the fact that they then went on to trade away their 1st round pick next year had media-types gushing over how clever the Steelers were as they’d clearly found their QB for the next 2 decades otherwise why would they have put themselves behind the 8-ball in next years draft? WHY?!!?!? HE MUST BE AMAZING. He went on to have a shit game against the 49ers last week, completing 14/27 for 174 yards, 2 TDs and an INT and a large chunk of those yards and a TD came from a dump off to Juju which he took to the house from 76 yards out. 13/26 for 98 doesn’t sound quite as “impressive” does it.
James Conner did well behind one of the best offensive lines in the league last year but the whole offense has struggled so far this season with Conner averaging a “Mixon-like” 2.9 yards per carry on the season so far. (I actually like Conner for the journey that he’s been on through his life and I was happy that he did so well last year) He actually had his best average of the season last week in his only full game with Rudolph. The Steelers are generally a 1-back team, but there must be some pressure soon to involve rookie Benny Snell Jnr. or Jaylen Samuels in the run game. All three are pretty good catching from the backfield as well.
Wide receiver hasn’t been much better for the Steelers this year even with Big Ben. The main man there now is Juju Smith-Schuster who, in fairness to him, has put up decent numbers so far this year, topping 78 in each game so far this year. Luckily the Steelers are the greatest team in history at developing wide receivers so having James Washington opposite him has been a roaring success… with his 6 receptions for 88 yards so far this season, incredibly prolific, oh and he was at college with Rudolph so should have a decent connection with him and was targeted 5 times last weekend. The better option for them is rookie Diontae Johnson. He’s had 2 redzone targets so far this year and found the endzone in the 4th qtr last week from 39 yards out. He had a target more than Washington and did more with them. It’s barely worth mentioning Ryan Switzer but I’ll put his name here, he’ll get a few targets. Probably.
At tight end they gave away even more draft capital in the week in picking up Nick Vannett from the Seahawks. Weird. He’s more of a blocking tight end though so they’ll be hoping that Vance McDonald will be available tonight after missing last week through injury. He’s officially doubtful though which generally means he won’t play. If he does he’s a decent look for a TD. Xavier Grimble probably the guy if McDonald misses out.
The strengthened their defense with Minkah Fitzpatrick who instantly made some moves against the 49ers with a forced fumble and an INT in his first game for them before getting thrown to the ground like a small child by Kyle Juszczyk. Juice throws Minkah and it added to a very highly drafted secondary. Which should be good but really hasn’t shown it through the years. They’ve got a good pass rush which could be a key for them tonight against the Bengals O-line, TJ Watt and Tuitt are pretty good at what they do.
Mike Tomlin is a dick.
Andy. Dalton. I don’t mind Dalton, he’s a decent QB is things are in his favour, e.g. with an offensive line and his weapons around him. Unfortunately neither of those things are in place at the moment. The offensive line has been decimated, and AJ Green is apparently out for at least 2 more games which is a fucking killer. Dalton though hasn’t been awful for the most part this year and has thrown the ball a TON. More than they’d have wanted I’d imagine. Nearly 1,000 yards, 5:3 TDs to INTs this year.
I, and most people believe that ideally the Bengals want to run an offense based largely on play-action which would suit Dalton, but to do that you need protection and you need to establish the run game. Something that without an offensive line is rather difficult and has proven as such so far this season with only 125 rushing yards through 3 games. Unsurprisingly the worst figure in the league. Last week though was more promising as they managed to get last years AFC rushing leader going to a certain extent; Joe Mixon averaged 4 ypc against a tough Bills defense so they’ll be hoping that continues tonight. Gio Bernard mixes in on occasion but has somehow been even worse. They also finally got Mixon some of the ball through the air and he nabbed a TD through the passing game last week.
If they had AJ Green fit and ready then they’d have a better WR corps than the Steelers, even without him I’d argue it’s not a million miles away. Tyler Boyd has proven himself reliable with or without AJ and once again leads the team in receptions with 24 from 33 targets, good for 250 yards, a lot of them on quick slants from Dalton to keep the offense moving. Outside of him they used Auden Tate and John Ross. Ross started the season on fire with a huge game against the Seahawks and a late 66 yards vs the 49ers to take him over 100 in each of those games before being shut down by the Bills last week (and fumbling the ball) If he gets some space he’ll take it to the house and it’s good to see him finally getting some proper usage. Tate is the polar opposite of him, slow and big, he got a lot of targets last week, ending with 88 yards on the day. He should be a good redzone weapon for them if they make it that far down the field. I’m a little surprised to still find 6/1 available on him given his usage last week.
At tight end they drafted Drew Sample this year, he’s more of a blocker than a pass catcher, that role goes to CJ Uzomah between the 20s and increasingly Tyler Eifert in the redzone. He had a season with 13 TDs but has been hampered with injuries since, I’m hoping he’s through them now (his back seemed fine before a freak ankle break last year) and if he is he can be a big weapon for the Bengals.
The Bengals defense should be decent, they’ve got talent throughout but it just doesn’t seem to work. Dunlap and Atkins up front get pressure with a few guys they can rotate in, Carl Lawson, Sam Hubbard et al. The secondary should be good with Jessie Bates, Pittsburgh allum Willam Jackson III and Dre Kirkpatrick. But they just get gashed by big plays, especially Dre who gets targeted a lot.
I have no fucking clue. The Steelers always win, but the Bengals generally play pretty well vs the AFC covering 8 of 10 on the road against them (thanks @BenRolfe15 for that nugget) I’m not sure it means too much with new head coaching there and that’s part of what makes this game so hard to figure out; Bengals have new coaching the Steelers have a new QB and offensive scheme.
Who’s better where? (IMO, obviously it’s my blog)
O-Line: Steelers by miles.
If only the Bengals had even an adequate offensive line, how different things might have been this year.
Bettings? 2 points unless stated.
- Joe Mixon o17.5 rec. yards – 1.90 (Unibet/888)
- 1st half team field goals – Bengals o0.5 – 1.90 (365) – 1st half props, near the bottom
I quite like Eifert to score tonight, not sure why, just a feeling, he’s at 4.33 to score on Skybet. They’ve got a few ‘both players to score’ involving him too though.
- Mixon and Eifert – 9/1 – 1 point (Skybet)
- Diontae Johnson and Eifert – 14/1 – 1 point (Skybet)
I’ll leave it at that and hope for a Bengals win.
If you’re up watching it and want to see what other Bengals fans around the UK are up to then give @Whodey_UK a follow and their hashtag #BengalsUKTailgate (hopefully Tom will be clothed for once) – And if you like the Bengals make sure you’re subscribed to the Bengals UK podcast, Paul and Nathan do an amazing job on it.
As always, thank you for reading tonight and yesterday where I had great numbers again.