Steelers vs Bengals: Odds, Picks, Prediction for NFL Week 1
Getty Images. Pictured: Joe Burrow.
- The Bengals open their 2022-23 season as home favorites against the Steelers.
- Mitch Trubisky will be under center for Pittsburgh, while Joe Burrow will lead a star-studded Bengals attack.
- Phillip Kall delivers his breakdown and betting pick below.
Steelers vs. Bengals Odds
-110o / -110u
-110o / -110u
Cincinnati hopes to start the season strong and prove last year’s Super Bowl run was not a fluke. Pittsburgh’s goal this season is to find answers at quarterback. The Steelers will be starting with Mitch Trubisky but, after an impressive preseason, it seems to be a matter of when, not if, Kenny Pickett gets his shot.
A team with Super Bowl aspirations versus a team with questions at quarterback makes the 6.5 point-spread appropriate. Let’s see if we can find value on the total instead.
Steelers vs. Bengals Matchup Analysis
Toggle the dropdowns below to hide or show how the Steelers and Bengals match up statistically:
Steelers vs. Bengals DVOA Breakdown (Stats from 2021)
Going into last year, the Bengals faced major questions on offense. Ja’Marr Chase had reports he had trouble seeing the ball and Joe Burrow was coming off a torn ACL. This was reflected in their game plan. In their first four games, the Bengals played conservatively, ranking 23rd in percentage pass/run split when the game was within one score. As the year went on though, Zac Taylor realized his offense's potency. In their final four games with Burrow as the starter, their pass/run split shot up to 10th ranked.
With the explosive potential of their offense, Cincinnati knew it needed to protect their franchise QB. They will have four new starters upfront to fix what was an atrocious offensive line. This will give Burrow more time in the pocket and allow his receivers to stretch the field and expand their playbook.
This new offensive line will be thrown in the deep end right away, though, against Pittsburgh's ferocious pass rush. If they can hold up, Cincinnati’s receivers should be primed to shred the Steelers' secondary. Only one member of Pittsburgh’s secondary ranked within the top 50 at their position last year per PFF. Those DBs will be trying to stop two of PFF’s top-10 receivers in Chase and Tee Higgins.
While Cincinnati poured money into their offensive line, they did little to adjust the defense. The lack of moves came with good reason too; the Bengals ranked eighth-best in points per drive. However, against tougher competition in the playoffs, this was playing with fire. In each of their four playoff games, Cincinnati was outgained by their opponent but dominated in turnovers, forcing 10 and only committing two.
The main test of Cincinnati’s defense will be if the Bengals' secondary can recreate its success. The leader of the secondary was Chidobe Awuzie, who ranked 14th at the position per PFF. However, he has shown major inconsistencies year-to-year. His range of outcomes per PFF has been anywhere between 14th and 93rd. If he ends up playing on the poor end of that range the Bengals could end up living in shootouts.
Just like the Steelers' DBs, the Bengals' will be tested in this matchup. The Steelers have a trio of receiving threats that all present unique problems. Chase Claypool is a dominant physical force, Diontae Johnson is a crisp route runner, and George Pickens was a human highlight reel in training camp.
However, no matter how open the receiver gets, it’s still up to the quarterback to get them the ball. Last year we saw the struggles an aging Ben Roethlisberger caused for this team. His 53.0 grade made him the worst-ranked quarterback in the NFL per PFF. Even using Mitch Trubisky’s low measuring stick he should be able to exceed the line of worst QB in the NFL.
The Bengals were surrounded by question marks entering last season and their gameplans reflected that. Once Zac Taylor saw what his offense could do, he pushed the envelope with it more and more.
Now, Taylor has had a whole offseason to make adjustments and put together a game plan around his offense’s strengths. Their offseason moves fixed what was their only weakness offensively. They now have the potential to break into the conversation of the best offense in the NFL. I expect them to try and assert their presence early in this game and prove that what they did last season was not a fluke.
This means the Steelers will either have to score to keep up or have opportunities in garbage late in the game. Either way, they have the weapons to be productive offensively and take advantage of those situations. With three threats on the outside, one is guaranteed to be matched up against Eli Apple — a matchup any of the Steelers trio should be able to win consistently.
When looking at the totals across all games, this was one that stood out. Other teams with high-powered offenses all have totals for their games of at least 46, but here the Bengals sit with just a total marked at 44.5.
Cincinnati’s defense may not live up to the level it set last year. However, their offense will prove it belongs in the conversation with the Bills and Chiefs for the best offense in the NFL.