The Pittsburgh Steelers face off against the Cincinnati Bengals this week and this could be a lot close than people think. The Steelers have already ruled out their best pass rusher in T.J Watt for Sunday which is a significant blow to that defense. On top of that, the Steelers offense has looked mediocre at best to start the year which could mean we see a low-scoring game on Sunday afternoon.
The Steelers rank 32nd in all of football for rushing yards per game which is more of an issue as the Bengals have done a nice job shutting down the run as they rank 11th in rushing yards per game allowed. So Big Ben looks like he’s going to be throwing quite a bit tomorrow which isn’t the recipe for success as Big Ben has started to really show his age the last couple of seasons.
On the flip side, the Bengals have to protect Joe Burrow if they want a shot at winning. Even with Watt down the Steelers have some elite pass rushers and will make put the hurt on Burrow if the offensive line doesn’t play better than the first two weeks of the season. Burrow has been sacked 10 times this season already with that number definitely rising tomorrow.
In order to protect Burrow, Cincinnati has to establish the run with Joe Mixon early. Pittsburgh is the 10th ranked rushing defense as far as yardage per game goes which is going to make that gameplan difficult but Burrow can’t keep taking hits like he has been or another major injury is most likely going to happen.
Both teams’ main objective has to be establishing the run as early as possible for a better chance at winning. If both defenses shut down the run early you have two quarterbacks that don’t have strong offensive lines trying to carry their team to victory. Who do you trust more an old run-down QB in Big Ben or a young QB that is coming off a torn ACL in Joe Burrow who still has a bad offensive line in front of him.
Fanduel Sportsbook only has the Steelers as 3 point favorites at home. This game is shaping up to be a hard-nosed slugfest with the winner being determined on who’s offensive line keeps their QB alive for most of the game. The Steelers are definitely on upset alert and this would be Burrow’s biggest win in his young NFL career.