THE STEELERS TEAM TOTAL
Last week, the Jets only threw for only 166 yards and rushed for 86. They committed three turnovers. One fumble resulted in a quick Bengal touchdown, and both of Farve's interceptions were thrown deep in Bengal territory. On the surface, it looks like the Jets should have scored less than 21 points in that game!
So how did they score 26 points on the Bengals?
Answer: The Bengals held the ball for just under 25 minutes.
There are two reasons for this "stagnancy trend" for the Bengals.
#1. Ryan Fitzpatrick averaged around 3.9 yards per pass and the Benglas running game averaged 2 yards per rush. This resulted in a 33% (5-15) third down conversion rate. As far as that rushing average is concerned, Fitzpatrick scrambled for 6 of the 20 attempts and was Cincy's leading rusher. They really struggled.
The Bengals had only had 10 total posessions against the Jets, and converted more than 1 first down on only 2 of those possessions! The Longest Bengal rush was 4 yards. The longest Bengal pass was 16 yards.
Fitzpatrick was forced into his hot reads and check-downs almost immediately (3.9 yards per pass). When Fitzpatrick plays, the Bengals are stagnant, because he can't read the coverage schemes on a 3-4 defense. All plays are funneled to the high percentage options, and the gains are significantly small.
This places tremendous pressure on the Bengal defense, and the pressure mounts because........
#2 The Bengals are a team that you can run the ball against. Did you know that Cincy is DEAD LAST in the AFC in the amount of running plays against their defense. In being last, I mean that teams have run the ball 217 times at that defense for almost 1000 yards. In contrast, Pittsburgh has only seen 120 running plays for 334 yards. In further contrast, teams have run the ball 36 times LESS toward the 2nd worst team (KC)! Teams love to go right at that Cincy defense. They love to run on the Bengals as a matter of choice. It's in the gameplan!
Cincy allows 4.3 yards per rush.
But here's the kicker: If your average starting point is the 20 yard line and you go "THREE AND OUT" on 8 of your 10 possessions, then you are punting from your 10 yard line (or worse) AND THIS GIVES YOUR ENEMY TWO THINGS:
Field position! The Jets average starting position was on the 46 yard line. (Cincy was the 20)
Time of possession! The Jets held the ball for almost 36 minutes (with 3 turnovers halting them from getting 40 minutes)
The Jets did poorly on offense, but they scored 26 points! This was a direct result of the lousy offense of the Bengals, because it could not convert on third down (33%) and it forced Cincy's defense onto the field . In the end, the jets held the ball for 6 minutes on only 41 yards as it rolled up the weakened Bengal defense for it's final score of the game. A defense cannot play the entire game. They can't play 66% of the game on the field, either.
When you take 10 plays to go 41 yards in 6 minutes, and you convert 50% of your third down attempts, then you don't have to be good on offense. You just need to allow a lousy Bengal offense to scamper off the field in three downs on 80% of all possessions! They punt, the other team returns to the 50, and then the other team runs for 4.2 yards per carry. That leads to scoring.
The Pittsburgh Steelers defense is no different than the Jets in terms of stopping the run. Those are two of the top 3 rush defenses in the AFC. But Pittsburgh's pass defense is ELITE, while the Jets are in the basement (4th from last in pass defense), so there is a distinct difference between the Jets and Steelers when it comes to running the Bengal offense off the field.
It's my estimation that there is tremendous value in taking the OVER for The Steeler TEAM TOTAL.
You can say that Pittsburgh has issues on offense, and that's fine. Let's pencil them in for 166 yards passing and 86 yard rushing with three turnovers (like the Jets). I think the Steelers will reach 23 points, and surpass it.
Pittsburgh scored 24 points in both Bengal games last year. In the first game, Hines Ward was just coming off an injury, and in the second game the weather was lousy.
The Pittsburgh Steelers OVER 23 points (-115) at BetUS
The Pittsburgh Steelers -9.5 (-110) at BookMaker
NFL: 9-5 (+3.35 Units)