Men lie, women lie but the numbers don’t. The most glaring number is the big, fat zero that lies in the win column for the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. Both teams are 0-3 and it is very likely that one of these teams emerge with their first victory of the season after Monday’s game (though with the way both teams have played this season, a tie would not surprise me).
While this Monday’s matchup may not interest many casual football viewers, this game could not have bigger implications for the Steelers. At 0-3, there is still a glimmer of hope for the season but an 0-4 start would pretty much bury any chance for a resurgence. With the season possibly hanging in the balance, here are all the statistics that may play a factor in Monday night’s contest.
2 – Andy Dalton will travel to Pittsburgh for the first time since 2017 after missing last year’s season finale due to injury. Pittsburgh has not been friendly to Dalton as he has compiled a 2-5 record at Heinz Field. Dalton has thrown nine touchdowns and eight interceptions in Pittsburgh while never recording a passer rating over 87.0. Coming off a game in which they recorded five takeaways, the Steelers defense is going to have a chance to continue taking the football away from the very generous Bengals’ quarterback.
5 – The Steelers are due to be on prime time this Monday night but their performances this season have done little to warrant the prime-time exposure. Fortunately for the Steelers, playing under the lights of prime time, especially on Monday nights have been a speciality for Mike Tomlin. Under Tomlin, the Steelers are 5-0 at home on Monday Night Football. They have also outscored their opponents 110-63 during those five games.
40 – JuJu Smith-Schuster has enjoyed a lot of success in his young career but success against the Bengals has been hard to come by for the 22-year old wide receiver. Smith-Schuster has played four games against the Bengals and he has one 100-yard game against the Bengals on his resume but in the other three contests, he has been held under 40 receiving yards. Despite both teams coming in at 0-3, this match-up will be as tough and competitive as they come and for the Steelers to walk away with their first victory, they are going to need Smith-Schuster to have a big game.
76 – The Steelers have been very bad on third down, converting just 25.7-percent of their attempts. The Bengals on the other hand have been very good at getting off the field on third downs. According to ESPN, quarterbacks have compiled a passer rating of just 76.0 against the Bengals’ defense on third downs, ninth best in the NFL. Mason Rudolph is 6/11 on third downs with three of those six completions moving the chains. Rudolph is going to need to have better efficiency on third downs but he is also going to need the help of Randy Fichtner, as the Steelers were very conservative at times last Sunday.
84.6 – Earlier this week, I wrote about how quarterbacks who happened to make their first start on the road since 2009 performed. Here is how they performed:
.327 Winning Percentage / 59.7 CP% / 1.07 TDs per game / 1.22 INTs per game / 75.9 QBR
Pretty brutal numbers but the outlook for quarterbacks who happened to play at home for their second start is a tad better. Since 2009, here is how all quarterbacks who made their second start at home performed:
.478 Winning Percentage / 62.1 CP% / 1.13 TDs per game / 0.89 INTs per game / 84.6 QBR
Not a huge improvement but enough of an improvement to get excited for Rudolph’s second career start.
217 – If the Steelers are looking for an opportunity to get their running game back on track, they will not find a better opportunity than the Bengals’ defense. Over the last two games, the Bengals have allowed an average of 217 rushing yards per game as both the Buffalo Bills and San Francisco 49ers have run haywire on them. Dating back to last season, the Steelers have failed to crack 100 yards on the ground in nine of their last ten games. Look for James Conner to hopefully get going as well, with a bit of Jaylen Samuels and Benny Snell Jr. mixed in.