Steelers vs Bengals Pick, Prediction: NFL Week 16 Preview

Steelers vs Bengals Pick, Prediction: NFL Week 16 Preview article feature image

Action Network/Getty Images. Pictured: Tee Higgins (left) and T.J. Watt.

Steelers vs Bengals Pick, Prediction

Saturday, Dec 23
4:30 p.m. ET
Pick: Steelers +3 (-115)

Steelers vs. Bengals odds for NFL Week 16 have the Bengals installed as 3-point favorites on the spread with an over/under of 38 total points. My NFL pick for this divisional matchup is on the home underdog.

These AFC North rivals last battled in Week 12, an encounter the Steelers won by the score of 16-10. A lot has changed for both teams since then, mainly at quarterback. Jake Browning has surprisingly been competent filling in for Joe Burrow while Pittsburgh lost Kenny Pickett (ankle) in Week 13. The Steelers turned to Mitch Trubisky and lost both of his starts; they're going with Mason Rudolph under center for this Bengals-Steelers rematch.

With injuries to some of Cincinnati's key contributors (notably, Ja'Marr Chase and D.J. Reader), the underdog Steelers have a good chance to repeat their performance from last time and end up on the winning side again. Continue reading for my Steelers vs. Bengals prediction.

Steelers vs Bengals Pick Prediction

Steelers vs Bengals Odds

Saturday, Dec. 23
4:30 p.m. ET
Steelers Odds
-110o / -110u
Bengals Odds
-110o / -110u
Odds via bet365. Get up-to-the-minute NFL odds here.

Steelers vs. Bengals Preview

These rivals faced off four weeks ago with the Steelers edging out a 16-10 victory. It was one of Pittsburgh’s best offensive games of the season as it played much better than the final score indicates. According to my adjusted scores metric, it should have played out more like a 24-10 victory for Pittsburgh.

Kenny Pickett threw for 278 yards, which was his highest mark of the season and second highest of his career. The Steelers’ offense put up 421 yards, which was notable as this was the first game following the firing of maligned offensive coordinator Matt Canada.

Since Week 12, however, the Steelers offense has gone downhill. They have lost their last three games to Arizona, New England, and Indianapolis, averaging just 13.67 points per game. Over this losing stretch, Pittsburgh has averaged -0.236 EPA per play, which ranks 30th and would be barely above the 32nd-ranked Jets’ efficiency for the full season.

This lack of production has led Pittsburgh to make another change as Mason Rudolph takes over Mitch Trubisky at quarterback. Rudolph ranks 53rd out of 72 quarterbacks in EPA per play since he entered the league in 2019.

However, his mark of -0.03 EPA per play is on par with Kenny Pickett, who ranks just behind him. So while Rudolph won’t provide anything groundbreaking, the offense will likely function similarly to how they have all year.

Steelers vs. Bengals Picks | FanDuel

Steelers +3 (-115)

Bengals -3 (-105)

Use our FanDuel Promo Code to get the most out of your Steelers vs. Bengals action.

Cincinnati’s defense has been a major issue this season — it ranks 31st in success rate and 28th in EPA per play. While I’m not a huge believer in Rudolph, if there's a matchup he could succeed in, it might be this one.

The Bengals continue to stack up injuries. With Joe Burrow and Cam Taylor-Britt already out, the Bengals lost Ja'Marr Chase and D.J. Reader last weekend. Chase could also miss Week 17 as he deals with a shoulder injury while Reader is done for the season with a torn quad tendon. Reader is probably the most valuable player on Cincinnati's defense and the unit will struggle to generate havoc up the middle without him.

Jake Browning has played well in relief of Burrow, but that's largely been aided by his robust set of offensive weapons. With Chase out, Browning’s job becomes much more difficult. The Steelers also gave Browning trouble in Week 12 as he averaged -0.13 EPA per play and a 42% passing success rate.

Pittsburgh’s defense ranks eighth in success rate and fifth in success rate against the run. Strong rush defense was key the last time these teams faced off as the Bengals had a 0% rushing success rate. They averaged -0.54 EPA per play on rushes (all on early downs), which forced Browning into 11 late passing downs. On these late passing downs, the Bengals averaged -1.24 EPA per play and an 18% success rate.

In Browning’s other starts, the Bengals have put up an above-average EPA per play on early down rushes. Backing up the offense and forcing Browning to make a play on third down will be crucial for the Steelers.

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Steelers vs. Bengals Pick

This game should be tightly contested, but Pittsburgh is healthier and has the home-field advantage. I believe the Steelers defense will again stuff Cincy's rushing attack and force Jake Browning to make more plays than he typically has to.

Mason Rudolph isn’t great, but he isn’t a huge drop-off from Kenny Pickett or Mitch Trubisky. Head coach Mike Tomlin will also be looking to keep his streak of no losing seasons alive as the Steelers try to keep their playoff hopes alive.

With a spread of three points, I’ll take the home underdog to cover and potentially win outright.

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