We went 2-0 on picks from last night’s game, so let’s keep it going and put a bow on Week 15 of the NFL season.
Tonight’s Monday night game is an AFC North battle between the 11-2 Steelers and the 2-10-1 Bengals. There’s value out there, so let’s find some Monday night bets to pursue. I’ve got two props for you tonight.
Make sure you’re following along on Twitter, @griffybets, for all things props and picks.
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
8:15 PM EST, ESPN
Line: Steelers -14
Forecast: 34 degrees, 20% chance of precipitation
Pittsburgh (11-2) overall, (8-5 ATS)
Pittsburgh has dropped two straight games after starting the year 11-0, most recently a 26-15 defeat at the hands of Buffalo.
Their strength lies in the defense, the number one ranked D in the league, according to PFF.
The receiving group grades out poorly for this team, but if the Steelers are to find success on offense, it will come through the air. We’ll break down the receivers snap counts and targets in a bit.
Cincinnati (2-10-1) overall, (7-6) ATS
The Bengals have lost five straight games, scoring a combined 50 points in that span. Backup quarterback Brandon Allen, starting in place of rookie Joe Burrow, is now also out – leaving Cincy with third-stringer Ryan Finley behind center.
Finley is in his second year, his career stats: 48% completion rate, 549 yards, two touchdowns, four interceptions.
Going against the top defense in the NFL, this one could get ugly for the Bengals.
Cincinnati’s defense is most definitely a bottom-tiered unit, but they are surprisingly graded as the eighth best coverage unit – offering a glimmer of hope against the Pittsburgh wideouts.
That hope starts to diminish when you realize this pass-rushing group is ranked dead last in the NFL, going against the third-best pass-blocking unit. Advantage, Pittsburgh.
Props to Target: Monday Night Bets
Let’s quickly compare these two teams PFF rankings:
Pittsburgh on Offense
Running grade (28) vs. Bengals Rush Defense grade (24) -4
Receiving grade (30) vs. Bengals Pass Coverage grade (8) -22
Cincinnati on Offense
Running grade (31) vs. Steelers Rush defense grade (2) -29
Receiving grade (24) vs. Steelers Pass coverage grade (1) -23
There is no doubt this is going to be a gross game. The over/under at 40.5 confirms just that. The numbers clearly suggest taking players unders in yards, but with such a low projected total – the value isn’t great.
I do think the under tonight is the play. I am continuously shocked by how poorly the Pittsburgh offense grades out. Meanwhile, the defense should have no issues shutting down the Bengals offense.
The Bengals team total is an interesting number to target, until you realize it’s set at a remarkable 10.5! That is absurdly low, and I can’t recommend it.
The pick tonight has to be a Pittsburgh pass-catcher. Let’s break them down from the last three weeks:
- JuJu Smith-Schuster (93% average snaps played, 26 targets, 21 catches)
- Diontae Johnson (73%, 32, 20)
- Eric Ebron (72%, 27, 16)
- Chase Claypool (58%, 19, 11)
- James Washington (56%, 13, 7)
Johnson was benched for the first-half of last week’s game after struggling with drops. He played the second half and caught four balls on seven targets. The man has gobbled up targets when he plays, but it’s tough to trust him after being benched for an entire half.
How about Eric Ebron? The Bengals covering tight ends the last three weeks:
- Evan Engram (6 catches, 129 yards)
- Mike Gesicki (9 catches, 88 yards, touchdown)
- Dalton Schultz (3 catches, 34 yards)
Ebron is third on the team in targets and receptions the last three weeks, and has the opportunity I covet when looking for props. He’s averaging 5.3 catches and 51 yards per game in his last three. I’m rolling with him.
Prop pick: Eric Ebron OVER 3.5 catches (-130)
The Steelers pass-rush, tops in the league, goes against a Bengals offensive line that has allowed 46 sacks this year, second most in the NFL. In limited action, Finley has already taken 7 sacks this year.
TJ Watt had two sacks the last time these two met. On the year, Watt has 12 sacks, and will be the catalyst for tonight’s game hitting this over.
Game prop: OVER 4.5 sacks (+110)
Thoughts on the Game: Monday Night Bets
The sharp play would be to take the 14-point underdog playing at home. The Bengals have been relatively feisty against the spread this year, at 7-6, and the Steelers have underwhelmed in recent weeks.
Despite that, I have a hard time feeling good about that pick with so many gaping disparities. The pass-rush advantage on both sides of the ball for Pittsburgh is enough to give me pause.
I will therefore bail on a game pick tonight. My heart says take the Bengals +14, but there isn’t a single number to back it up.
I think the under will hit tonight. If you’re feeling bold, try out a (-110) teaser: Bengals +20, under 46.5.
We shall see! With that, we head to Week 16. There are games on Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Monday this week – I’ll be here for all of them.
Make sure you’re following on Twitter @griffybets, plenty more game previews and prop breakdowns to come. Thanks for reading and good luck tonight!