Publish Date: 09/10/2022
Fact checked by: Mike Goodpaster
The Cincinnati Bengals were busy this offseason, upgrading their offensive line, beefing up the defense, and keeping the coaching staff intact. Now they will get to show the fruits of their labor by taking on their arch-rival Pittsburgh Steelers at Paycor Stadium. The NFL could not have picked a better game to start the season. Check out the top betting strategies for betting on the Bengals/Steelers.
These two divisional teams have a history of getting after it, where emotions run high. Cincinnati swept last year’s games, defeating the Steelers 24-10 in Pittsburgh and 41-10 at home. The Stripes have won the previous three games, bringing in a new Bengal era. What should we expect from this game?
All stats courtesy of Pro Football Reference
Quarterback Joe Burrow showed the fans what he was capable of last season by leading the team to a divisional title, an AFC championship, and a Super Bowl appearance, where they nearly won it.
The Bengals addressed their biggest weakest in the off-season by giving their offensive line a complete makeover picking up Ted Karras, Alex Cappa, and La’el Collins in free agency. Rookie Cordell Volson will start at right guard, leaving Jonah Williams as the only starter from last year’s team. This group will be tested early by a star-studded Steelers defense.
Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin hangs his hat on having a top defense every year, and this season will be no exception. Without a doubt, the heart and soul of their defense is their line. I am sure the Steelers will key on rookie left guard Volson by sending Cameron Heywood or former Bengal tackle Larry Ogunjobi to test the rookie.
At all times, Burrow will need to know where top edge rusher T.J. Watt is. Watts is the NFL’s reigning Defensive Player of the Year. With 22.5 from last season, Watts will be looking for revenge. The good news is that the new Bengals right tackle Collins has the experience and talent to be a problem for Watts. Either way, this with be a fun matchup to watch.
As tough as the Steeler’s defense is, the Bengal’s offense is just as impressive. The receiver trio of Ja’Marr Chase, Tee Higgins, and Tyler Boyd is one of the best in the NFL. Chase had seven catches for 104 yards and two touchdowns in two games with the Steelers last year. Chase, the NFL Rookie of the Year in 2021, will give the Steelers all they can handle. Focusing too much on Chase, Boyd, who had 828 yards, and Higgins, who had 1091 yards last season, will make you pay.
The Steelers added cornerback Levi Wallace from the Bills to strengthen an already tough secondary with Terrell Edmunds and Cameron Sutton. Two-time Pro Bowler safety Minkah Fitzpatrick is the leader of this secondary; he has ball-hawking skills but could be used more to defend the run. Regardless, this group will have their hands full as they try to stop Burrow and company.
Pick your poison; if the Bengals receiving corp was not impressive, let me introduce you to Burrow’s other offensive weapons. All-Pro veteran running back Joe Mixon ran for over 1205 yards last season behind a below-average offensive line. In the two games against the Steelers, Mixon had 255 yards and two touchdowns last year. But wait, there is more, tight end Hayden Hurst, who the Ravens drafted in the first round of the 2018 draft, was signed in the offseason. Hurst will likely be Burrows’s safety value if he feels any pressure.
Steeler linebacker Myles Jack solidifies the middle of the field for them along with Devin Bush; however, it may not be enough when dealing with those mentioned above. Burrow can attack you in so many ways that this steelers team’s strength could be overwhelmed by them.
The Bengals’ defensive coordinator Lou Anarumo is the mastermind behind this defense and has added to his arsenal. With their third-round pick, the Bengals chose defensive tackle Zach Carter, who can be a nice rotational piece to an already unrelenting defensive line made up of D.J. Reader, B.J. Hill, and Cam Sample. These run-stopping defenders will be a significant problem for the Steelers up front.
The most glaring problem for this Steelers team is their offensive line, which is not good. Now add in a new starting quarterback in veteran Mitch Trubisky and the problem multiples. Their offensive line’s inability to block and function as a unit will allow pressure on Trubisky, which could hold back the entire offense.
Who would bring the pressure? That would be the H&H boys, Trey Hendrickson and Sam Hubbard. Hendrickson had 14 sacks, and 27 quarterback hits last season, making him a problem. The much anticipated defensive end Joesph Ossai who was injured all last year will also be making his debut. Ossai is known for having a non-stop motor when in pursuit of quarterbacks. Together they could make it a long day for Mr. Trubisky.
Bengals linebackers Logan Wilson and Germaine Pratt will have their hands full with the talented running back Najee Harris. The Steelers do not have much depth behind Harris, so look for them to run him a ton, especially with a new quarterback. Pittsburgh also has a weapon in tight end Pat Freiermuth. The Stripes need to counter with corner Tre Flowers, known for shutting down tight ends and could have an enormous impact than most people think. Check out the top football betting sites.
Trubisky’s two top receivers are Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson. Claypool was inconsistent all last season, while Johnson may or may not play due to injury. Without a doubt, Trubisky will need to rely on his new rookie receiver, George Pickens, who, if left unattended, can hurt you. The Bengal’s skilled corners of Chidobe Awuzie and Eli Apple will have the task of containing this group as well as not giving up big plays.
With their first pick of the draft, the Bengals chose Saftey Dax Hill to add to their other two outstanding safeties. Hill has demonstrated in his preseason games that he is competent in picking off passes and making quarterbacks pay in poor decision-making. Veteran Vonn Bell and Jessie Bates will help guide the rookie on the field.
Bates is playing on a franchise tag and needs to show his worth if he wants a big payday at the end of the season.
Since we have been talking about great Bengal trios on both sides of the ball, let’s not forget the trio of punter Kevin Huber, long-snapper Clark Harris, and the exceptionally gifted kicker in Evan McPherson. Long-time coach and special teams coordinator Darrin Simmons kept this group intact, knowing they could have the talent to return to the playoffs this year.
McPherson is quite the weapon, giving the Bengals potential points once they pass the 50-yard line. Pittsburgh will have to re-examine their field position or risk leaving enough yards to a high-yielding McPherson and his bionic leg.
This competition will be an opening day to remember by the time everything is said and done. The energy of the Jungle, Joe Burrow’s offense, and an underestimated defense should have the Steelers headed home with their first-season loss.