NFL Betting: Scrappy AFC North Tested on Monday Night Football
by Bovada Sportsbook Staff | Sept. 16, 2013
The Pittsburgh Steelers haven’t choked out of the gates to an 0-2 start in over a decade, yet that’s exactly what they run the risk of this week under the primetime spotlight of Monday Night Football. Is the end of the era where Big Ben and company are perennial staples atop the NFL moneyline near?
The Steelers will take to their Week 2 road contest as 7-point underdogs against the Cincinnati Bengals, but don’t think they’ve simply resigned to fate.
Still reeling from a disappointing loss to the Tennessee Titans in their season opener, Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense will look to rebound after a dismal display – and given their track record of scrapping for wins, there’s a decent chance they do it.
Nobody’s expecting the man under center to go off for a 350-yard, multi-touchdown game like some of his peers did Sunday, but an aerial threat would do wonders for the committee of running backs charged with the task of keeping this unit relevant when the esteemed Steelers defense struggles to carry the load.
Antonio Brown, Emmanuel Sanders and Jerricho Cotchery all presented themselves as suitable receiving options in the debut last weekend, but will have to continue to threaten against a Bengals secondary if they want to free up space for their backs to work.
The Bengals’ front seven, and particularly Geno Atkins, will look to put pressure on Pittsburgh early and often as they struggle to adapt to life without center Maurkice Pouncey.
All things considered, there’s a reason the oddsmakers have sided with the Bengals in the days leading up to the Week 2 contest. Cincinnati has +2200 odds of winning the Super Bowl this season, compared to Pittburgh’s +5000 line on those same NFL futures.
In Cincinnati the Bengals will look to get a big game out of Andy Dalton. After throwing for 282 yards and a pair of touchdowns in Week 1, 162 of which (and both scores) to star receiver A.J. Green, the club would be remiss not to capitalize on the exact same tandem.
Not surprisingly, the Dalton-Green connection will be one of the focal points for the Pittsburgh secondary.
Just how effective said secondary can be will play a major role in how this matchup unfolds in the sportsbook. With an over/under set at 41 total points for the contest, it wouldn’t take much for these quarterbacks to top the mark.
Of the first 15 total Week 2 matchups on the NFL calendar this week, nine exceeded a total of 41 points – and while we may not be seeing Aaron Rodgers or Peyton Manning take the field for the Monday Night contest, it’s not out of the realm of possibility for this pair.
On one hand the platoon of Steelers receivers could be the key to a surprisingly high-scoring affair out of Pittsburgh; on the other, Green has the potential to be a high-volume, one-man show.
Therein lies the intrigue.
Football fans and the NFL betting community set to tune into the Monday matchup between Cincy and Pitt aren’t expecting a fireworks display of offensive artistry, but rather two gritty franchises with just enough scoring ability to put pressure on their opponents.
When two clubs with similar approaches to the game collide, great things happen. Couple with that the desperation both teams, each fringe contenders in their own right, feel after dropping their debuts and you have the makings for one of the hardest-fought games on the moneyline.