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Monday Night Football open thread: Bengals at Steelers

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Week 4 caps off with a battle of two struggling AFC North teams.

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Cincinnati Bengals v Pittsburgh Steelers Photo by Joe Sargent/Getty Images

Games between AFC North rivals are usually heated affairs, but tonight’s Week 4 tilt features two teams trying to find their first win. The Cincinnati Bengals and Pittsburgh Steelers have had dreadful starts to their seasons, though they are fortunate that the other two teams in the division — the Ravens and Browns — are both 2-2. Both teams are at the bottom of the league’s DVOA ratings, with the Bengals at 31st and Steelers at 30th, just ahead of the Dolphins.

The Bengals were expected to be the bottom team in the AFC North, and so far, they have fulfilled those expectations. They lost two close games to the Seahawks and Bills, but were walloped by the 49ers. Quarterback Andy Dalton continues his mediocrity, and with one of the worst defenses in the league, the Bengals are primed for a last place finish.

Challenging them for that title, however, are the hapless Steelers. Their star quarterback, Ben Roethlisberger, suffered a season-ending injury, and his replacement Mason Rudolph looks like a disaster so far. On paper, his stats look decent: two close losses, and two touchdowns each game, only a pair of interceptions. However, his yardage total and PFF grades tell a different story. Coming into the week, Rudolph had the third-worst PFF grade of all quarterbacks this season, listed as QB42 ahead of only Trevor Siemian and Jarrett Stidham — who have combined for 12 dropbacks. The Steelers defense is slightly below average, and without a sufficient passing attack to feed JuJu Smith-Schuster, they will likely have to rely on running back James Conner. Conner had a successful 2018 campaign in Le’Veon Bell’s stead, but 2019 has been a struggle so far, having accumulated a mere 97 rushing yards.

It is not a pretty matchup on paper, but hey, it’s football. Let’s close out Week 4 of the National Football League season.

Date: Monday, September 30, 2019
Time: 8:15 p.m. ET
Location: Heinz Field—Pittsburgh, PA
TV: ESPN
Announcers: Joe Tessitore, Booger McFarland & Lisa Salters
Online Stream/Replay: Watch ESPN, NFL Gamepass