The AFC North is a little bit of a jumble to this point this season. The Browns have regarded horrible, however are by some means in first place. The Ravens shot out of the gates on hearth, however have misplaced back-to-back video games to drop to 2-2 and sit in second within the division.
The Steelers and Bengals, in the meantime, have matching Zero-Three data. Neither group seems like a menace to do a lot of something. Pittsburgh underwent a ton of offseason modifications for the primary time shortly after which misplaced its beginning quarterback to harm. Cincinnati made modifications for the primary time in a good longer whereas, and is struggling to realize a foothold underneath a brand new coach.
It is on this surroundings that the Steelers and Bengals sq. off within the Week four version of Monday Evening Soccer. Let’s rapidly break issues down.
John Breech and Ryan Wilson broke down Monday’s matchup on the most recent episode of the Choose Six Podcast. Hearken to the total present beneath and make sure to subscribe proper right here to get every day NFL goodness fired into your eardrums.
Bengals at Steelers
- Date: Monday, Sept. 30
- Time: eight:15 p.m. ET
- TV channel: ESPN
- Odds: Steelers -Three.5, O/U 45 (by way of SportsLine)
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When the Steelers have the ball
Final week was Mason Rudolph’s first profession begin. It didn’t go nicely in any respect. Rudolph completed the sport towards the 49ers having accomplished 14 of 27 passes for 174 yards, two touchdowns, and one interception; however even these paltry figures are give up a bit deceptive. The 76-yard landing cross Rudolph threw to JuJu Smith-Schuster traveled simply 11 yards within the air. Smith-Schuster did the remaining, scooting previous defenders on his method to the top zone.
Simply three of Rudolph’s 27 passes traveled greater than 20 yards within the air, per Professional Soccer Focus, and he accomplished simply a kind of throws. His lack of willingness to stretch the sphere allowed the 49ers to gear up towards shorter passes, which each constricted throwing lanes and restricted massive performs. The Steelers created simply 5 first downs by way of the cross all recreation, which naturally meant they didn’t transfer the ball all that nicely general.
The Steelers demonstrated a transparent choice to base their offense across the exploits of James Conner, and it might not be stunning if that remained their choice as long as Rudolph is underneath heart. However opponents will clearly and justifiably worry Conner greater than they do Rudolph if he doesn’t start taking extra probabilities. They will power him to march the ball down the sphere one brief cross at a time — one thing that’s exceedingly troublesome for even the most effective and most skilled quarterbacks, not to mention a second-year participant making among the many first begins of his profession.
On Monday night time, Rudolph has the good thing about squaring off with a Bengals protection that has left a lot to be desired to this point this season. Cincinnati ranks 28th within the NFL in yards allowed per recreation, 27th in factors allowed per recreation, and 24th in defensive effectivity, per Soccer Outsiders’ DVOA. The Bengals have a bottom-third unit towards each the run and the cross, and although they’ve performed a stable job of making stress, they’ve simply 5 sacks and have created solely two interceptions whereas yielding a 110.Three opponent passer score.
Cornerback William Jackson III is doing his typical sturdy work in protection (85.7 passer score towards, per Professional Soccer Focus), however Dre Kirkpatrick (135.9) has been lit up, and the group’s linebackers and safeties have largely struggled to cowl the center of the sphere. The Steelers will presumably be with out Vance McDonald on this recreation so their choices within the passing recreation are considerably restricted in comparison with when they’re at full power, however it ought to at the very least be a bit simpler for Rudolph to navigate this protection than it was every week in the past.
If Pittsburgh can will get its operating recreation going towards a Cincinnati entrance that has been getting pushed off the ball fairly a bit, that can make issues simpler on Rudolph, and permit him to merely handle the sport relatively than having to go win it along with his arm.
When the Bengals have the ball
Talking off offensive struggles … yikes.
Bengals operating again Joe Mixon has carried the ball 32 occasions for 87 yards this season. He has gained a complete of 17 yards earlier than contact — lower than half a yard per carry. Mixon has added simply seven catches for 51 yards, and pass-catching again Gio Bernard has chipped in all of 56 yards on his 5 grabs, to go along with his 32 yards on 16 carries.
Andy Dalton is finishing 63 % of his passes at 7.6 yards per try, however he is been sacked 11 occasions in three video games and has 5 touchdowns towards three interceptions. When throwing to gamers not named Tyler Boyd, he’s 57 of 96 for 720 yards. That’s, to place it kindly, gross. And have been it not for a pair late-half heaves to John Brown, his numbers could be even worse.
Fortunate for Dalton, he’s about to face a Pittsburgh protection that has been among the many most forgiving in all of soccer. Positive, the Steelers have added Minkah Fitzpatrick to the again finish, however they’re nonetheless insistent on protecting slot receivers (i.e. Boyd) with both a linebacker or security Terrell Edmunds, none of whom seem like as much as the duty. Throw in the truth that Mike Hilton has been torched for an ideal 158.Three passer score on throws in his course and that even outdoors corners Joe Haden (91.eight) and Steven Nelson (97.four) will not be precisely lighting the world on hearth, and, nicely, it is simple to see why the Steelers have struggled so badly on protection.
However what occurs when a stoppable power meats a moveable object? Aren’t you glad we get to search out out the reply to this query on Monday Evening Soccer?
Prediction: Bengals 17, Steelers 13