Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals kicks off this Sunday (11/26/23) at 1:00pm EST in Cincinnati Ohio as a home game for the Bengals. Get Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals predictions and best bets below as our best bet is on the under 35.5 in what should be an ugly defensive slugfest.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction & Best Bet
After another underwhelming offensive performance that featured just 10 points in a loss to the Browns, the Steelers finally said enough is enough and fired OC Matt Canada. This firing was a long time coming as Canada’s play calling was head scratching to say the least, consistently getting out gained while having to rely on all their success on the backs of their defense. With Canada out the spotlight now looms large on Kenny Pickett to see if he is a part of the issue as well.
With Canada out, it’s tough to say how the Steelers offense will look. One thing is for certain, expect a more aggressive style of play calling as Canada’s hyper conservative style led to his own demise. Canada had a tendency to call halfback dives and screen passes on early downs to minimal success, forcing Pickett to try and convert third downs at unfavorable distances. While the play calling should lead to more success, Pickett’s inability to stretch the field may lead to more struggles.
Especially against this Bengals defense, a unit that thrives in creating Havoc. Their front four has done a respectable job at collapsing the pocket in passing downs, ranking ninth in Adjusted Sack Rate. Their ability to get to Pickett will be vital in order to mask their inefficiencies in defending the short throw, ranking 28th in Def Pass Success Rate. Lucky for the Bengals, Pickett’s tendency to abuse the short throw has also come to minimal success as the Steelers rank 27th in Pass Success Rate.
Simply put, the Steelers offense may continue to struggle as they realize that their problems were deeper than just their offensive coordinator. Factor in the expected drop off in offensive production on the Bengals end with Joe Burrow getting ruled out for the rest of the season and this has all the makings for a defensive slug fest. Backup quarterback Jake Browning showed some flashes with his arm, but now takes on a Steelers front four who will routinely create pressure on the young rookie.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Prediction & Best Bet: Under 35.5
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Betting Odds
The Steelers spread has seen a drastic change in line movement since the injury to Joe Burrow, originally opening at +4.5 and now currently sitting at -2. The defense is poised to make Jake Browning’s day a long one, as well as potentially seeing more success on the offensive end just by calling a more aggressive game script.
As for the total, points were originally expected to be scored at a moderate pace as oddsmakers opened the number at 41. With Burrow out, oddsmakers reopened the total at a shockingly low 35.5. Bettors have yet to steam the under down to the key number of 35, keeping it at the current total of 35.5.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Key Injuries
Plenty of big names are featured on the injury report coming into this contest. Tee Higgins has been ruled out while Minkah Fitzpatrick, George Pickens, Sam Hubbard, and Cam Taylor-Britt are all listed as questionable.
Pittsburgh Steelers vs. Cincinnati Bengals Key Matchups
Can the Steelers front seven limit the rushing production of Joe Mixon?
Joe Mixon Vs. Steelers Front Seven
With the Bengals rolling out a backup rookie quarterback, you can expect to see a more conservative play call as they limit the chance for Havoc through the air against the Steelers defense. That means a heavier dose of the run will be called for lead back Joe Mixon.
JOE MIXON TOUCHDOWN pic.twitter.com/scI2Z1A6pD
— NFL Retweet (@NFLRT) November 17, 2023
Running the ball has been an inconsistency for the Bengals offense as they rank 15th in Rush DVOA, 16th in Rush Success Rate, and 29th in Rush EPA. This is in large part of their weak run blocking unit, clocking in at 29th in Adjusted Line Yards. Defending the early down rush success is vital to limiting this offense, forcing Browning to convert at longer distances on later downs. That plays into the Steelers hands as they rank 13th in Def Rush Success Rate and can now stack the box at a heavier rate.