There’s many interesting storylines in play in the week 1 Steelers at Bengals matchup. The first being if Cincinnati is about to experience a Super Bowl hangover following their loss to the Rams last February. On the other side of the field Pittsburgh moves on after 18 seasons from QB Ben Roethlisberger, handing over the reins of the offense to former #2 pick Mitch Trubisky for now.
Despite perhaps some questions at QB, Pittsburgh getting +7.5 points on Sunday seems like a lot. They still have a talented running back, some big game potential at WR, and one of the best defensive players in the NFL. That’s a big reason public betting is split 50/50 on this game.
New and Improved Trubisky?
They say Chicago is the city QBs go to to die, so it’s hard to pin Trubisky’s shortcomings in the Windy City just on him. He was booed at a Bulls game when first introduced, so the kid never really had a chance in the Windy City with his best season being 2016 where he threw for 3,223 yards and 24 TDs.
The problem Trubisky is facing heading into the Steelers at Bengals week 1 matchup is that his heir apparent seems to be waiting in the wings, with Pittsburgh taking hometown kid Kenny Pickett with the #20 pick in last year’s draft. That could have Trubisky playing with a chip on his shoulder, and we will see just how much he learned being the backup to Josh Allen last season in Buffalo.
Trubisky showed a nice command of the offense in the preseason, and he has weapons around him. RB Najee Harris accumulated over 1,600 yards of offense last season, Diontae Johnson had 107 catches, while Chase Claypool and second round pick George Pickens are huge matchup problems for opposing secondaries. The Bengals ranked 26th vs. the pass last season.
Hangover Time for Bengals?
Cincinnati surprised a lot of people by making it to the Super Bowl last season, winning in Kansas City in the AFC Championship game before falling 23-20 to the Rams. Coming up short means the element of surprise is gone for Cincinnati though, and they’ll have a target on them all season long.
The Bengals swept the Steelers last season, 24-10 on the road and then gave them a 41-10 whitewashing at Paul Brown Stadium in November. Joe Burrow hit 20/24 passes in the latter game, but it was Joe Mixon that couldn’t be stopped with 165 yards and 2 TDs.
Cincinnati will have a similar gameplan on Sunday as Pittsburgh had the worst rushing defense in the league last season. Plus, any time you can limit Burrow dropping back facing the heat of T.J. Watt (23.5 sacks last season) that’s a good idea.
Free Steelers at Bengals Week 1 Pick
The Steelers are kind of an afterthought in the North this season with the Bengals success last year, the Browns picking up Deshaun Watson, and Baltimore always a contender. The truth is Pittsburgh just may end up being the cream of the crop in the division because they are talented on both sides of the ball. It all comes down to how well Trubisky plays, and he should get off to a good start against this Bengals secondary.
Free Pick: Steelers +7.5