The Pittsburgh Steelers will open their season playing against their division rival, the Bengals. The Steelers begin a new era at quarterback following the retirement of Ben Roethlisberger at the end of last season with Mitchell Trubisky winning the starting role over this year’s first round pick, Kenny Pickett. Meanwhile, the Bengals are coming off a surprise 2021 season in which they fell just short of bringing Cincinnati its first Lombardi trophy. The team exceeded all expectations last year by going from worst to first in their division, in large part because of Joe Burrow and playmakers Ja’Marr Chase, Joe Mixon, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd’s ability to overmatch defenses.
Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cincinnati Bengals
In last year’s two matchups between these divisional foes, the Bengals defeated the Steelers both times with scores of 24-10 in week 3 and then 41-10 in week 12. The Steelers offense was no match as Ben’s deficiencies in his last season proved costly, including throwing four interceptions in the two games. While Joe Burrow didn’t play out of this world, with less than 200 passing yards in both games, touchdowns by Higgins and Chase, plus Mixon’s rush attack, led the team to victory. This was the first time the Bengals swept the Steelers since 2009, and for Who Dey Nation, hopefully signals a changing of the guard in the AFC North. For Mike Tomlin, he’ll have to work through the challenges of a new quarterback not only to beat his divisional foes, but to maintain his streak of never having a losing season.
Pittsburgh Steelers Vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction
I’m taking the Bengals 27-20 for this game and to cover. Not only do the Bengals have too many playmakers out wide on the offense for the Steelers to keep up, but matchups like Joe Mixon vs. the run defense work in the Bengals favor. The Steelers do have talent on both sides of the ball, particularly with reigning defensive player of the year T.J. Watt, but not enough to match the Bengals star power. After all, and as we witnessed many times least season, all it takes is a bomb or two from Burrow to Chase to secure a Bengals win.
Prediction Bengals win and cover 27-20
Steelers are 4-1 ATS in their last 5 vs. AFC North.
Steelers are 1-4 ATS in their last 5 road games.
Bengals are 8-0 ATS in their last 8 games overall.
Bengals are 5-1 ATS in their last 6 vs. AFC North.
Pittsburgh Steelers Injuries: WR Calvin Austin III (Foot) Q, WR Diontae Johnson (Shoulder) Q, DT Montravius Adams (Ankle) Q, OLB T.J. Watt (Knee) Q, LB Alex Highsmith (Ribs) Q, CB Arthur Maulet (Hamstring) Q
Cincinnati Bengals Injuries: QB Joe Burrow (Appendix) Q, WR Tee Higgins (Shoulder) Q, TE Drew Sample (Knee) Q, TE Mitchell Wilcox (Ankle) Q, OT Isaiah Prince (Biceps) Q, DE Khalid Kareem (Hamstring) Q, LB Logan Wilson (Shoulder) Q, CB Eli Apple (Quadriceps) Q, CB Cam-Taylor Britt (Abdomen) Q
Check out the key matchups and mismatches for Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals below.
The Steelers Offensive Line vs the Bengals Defensive Line
While many eyes will be on the Steelers new QB Mitchell Trubisky, (and rightfully so), how well the Steelers offensive line can pass protect will play a big role in Trubisky’s success. In two matchups last year, the Bengals defensive line were the clear winners. Watch out for Sam Hubbard who in two games last season forced 2 sacks, 1 fumble recovery, and a pass defense that led to an interception. Though Big Ben’s lack of mobility in his final season likely helped the Bengals gain pressure, the Steelers offensive line still needs to play better if they want Mitchell Trubisky to have a smooth debut. However if the Steelers offensive line continues to perform as poorly as they did this preseason, they will have to rely on Trubisky’s mobility to bail them out.
If the Steelers’ offensive line is going to be an utter disaster (again), then at least they have actual athleticism at the QB position this time around.
Mitch Trubisky has really displayed some nifty escape ability this preseason. That’s going to continue being very useful. pic.twitter.com/cPm8kfNCKx
— Daniel Valente (@StatsGuyDaniel) August 22, 2022
The Steelers Rush Defense vs Joe Mixon
Another key to this matchup will be if the Steelers rush defense can improve. The Steelers had the worst run defense in the league last year, and it particularly showed versus Joe Mixon who had 255 combined rush yards in the two games versus the Steelers at 5.5 yards per carry. With outside linebacker TJ Watt coming off a record tying 22.5 sack season, don’t be surprised if the Bengals try to take advantage of the Steelers weak run defense, rather than challenging their pass rushers.