Kickoff Sunday, Sep 26th 1:00pm Eastern

Bengals (
19.75) at

Steelers (
22.25)

Over/Under 42.0

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Notes

Key Matchups
Bengals Run D
4th DVOA/8th Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O
24th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D
8th DVOA/13th Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O
19th DVOA/17th Yards per pass
Steelers Run D
7th DVOA/11th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O
20th DVOA/20th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D
13th DVOA/15th Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O
18th DVOA/18th Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By Hilow >>
  • This game sets up as a true divisional slugfest, with two offenses that struggle to maintain drives against two defenses that have largely enjoyed success at suppressing opposing drive success rates
  • Both teams are dealing with injuries to key players, which should open up additional opportunities for Juju Smith-Schuster and Tyler Boyd
  • When the two players of most intrigue are opposing slot wide receivers with low aDOTs, it tells you about everything you need to know about this game

How Cincinnati Will Try To Win ::

Cincinnati’s eighth highest situation-neutral rush rate of 46% clearly indicates how they would like to win games this season. Even more surprising than that (considering their relatively weak offensive line) is the fact that their defense has looked #good to start the year. One of the biggest deciding factors of this game is going to be the mismatch in the trenches between the Steelers fierce pass rush and a Bengals offensive line ceding the highest adjusted sack rate in the league through two weeks. Furthermore, all three major groin injuries from last week from the Steelers (Joe Haden, Devin Bush, and TJ Watt) returned to practice on Thursday.

As previously mentioned, the Bengals would prefer to run the football heavily to control the tempo of the game and to set up the pass. That could be an issue this week against a tough interior, with the matchup yielding a low 3.66 net-adjusted line yards metric on the backs of the Steelers’ third-ranked value of 2.86. The running back opportunities should be there for Joe Mixon, who has snap rates of 78% and 84% and opportunity counts of 33 and 22 to start the year, but this is not a matchup that generates a +EV environment.

The pass game could be without one of its top performers in Tee Higgins this week, who has yet to practice with a shoulder injury (as of Thursday). Some combination of Mike Thomas and Auden Tate should step into his role should he miss, which appears likely at this point in the week. Rookie wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase should see the most of Joe Haden in coverage, leaving Tyler Boyd to the coverage of James Pierre and Cameron Sutton, both of whom have been absolutely torched to start the year (both have allowed greater than 70% of passes in their primary coverage to be completed). The sticky coverage from the Steelers’ linebacker corps spells trouble for the Cincinnati tight ends and Joe Mixon through the air, but they are rarely used in that role to begin with. 

How Pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::

The Steelers have attempted to open up their offense under Matt Canada, which has largely been underwhelming to this point. Pittsburgh has scored only three offensive touchdowns through two games and continues to operate primarily through a semi-power run and short passing game. The pistol offense Canada has implemented is a nice balance between keeping Ben Roethlisberger out from under center and the predictable nature of shotgun, but this team is simply finding the intermediate areas of the field clogged without the threat of deep passing. They hold the league’s fifth highest situation-neutral pass rate at 68% and play at the sixth fastest situation-neutral pace of play, but it hasn’t been enough to overcome the predictable nature of their offense to this point (primarily due to Big Ben’s lack of downfield chops at this point in his career). To complicate matters this week, wide receiver Diontae Johnson is expected to miss Week 3’s contest with a knee injury sustained late in Week 2, leaving Juju Smith-Schuster and running back Najee Harris as the primary extensions of the run game through the air.

Pittsburgh’s younger-but-not-better offensive line has been a real issue in the run game and the matchup with an overperforming Bengals defense yields a paltry 2.955 net-adjusted line yards metric. We shouldn’t expect much success on the ground this week, leaving a larger pass game load for Juju and Najee. Najee remains an every-down running back, but that has largely not translated to elite levels of running back opportunities, let alone production. His 19 and 15 opportunity counts over the first two weeks leave much to be desired.

As discussed above, a good portion of Pittsburgh’s pass game serves as an extension of the run, with Juju working to a 4.1 aDOT, Diontae Johnson working to an 8.9 aDOT, and Chase Claypool’s 15.9 aDOT only translating to a 42.9% catch rate. Rookie tight end Pat Freiermuth actually leads veteran Eric Ebron in snap rate over the first two weeks, working to a 7.4 aDOT (12.3 for Ebron). With Diontae expected to miss this week’s contest, look for James Washington (2020 aDOT of 12.6) to soak up a 65-80% snap rate share operating on the perimeter. The Bengals have forced the league’s third shallowest yards per completion value at 8.1, seemingly weighed down by their Week 2 game against an Andy Dalton-led Bears team. The more reliable stat for this matchup is likely Cincinnati’s 70.27% completion rate allowed. What all of this means is that the matchup aligns with how the Steelers will be looking to attack through the air.

Likeliest Game Flow :: 

The Steelers came out and beat the Bills in Week 1 only to lose to the Raiders in Week 2. Consistency is a real problem on the offensive side of the ball for this team to start the year and it is highly likely this divisional matchup plays to an ugly game because of it. Pittsburgh’s offense is likely to continue to struggle until Matt Canada can figure out how to best utilize the main components of his offense, as evidenced by their 27th-ranked drive success rate. On the other side of the ball, the Bengals are one of only five teams with a worse drive success rate on offense than the Steelers to start the year and both defenses rank in the top half of the league in drive success rate allowed (Cincinnati with the surprise rank of sixth, with Pittsburgh checking in at 14th). 

DFS+ Interpretation ::

By Alex88 >>

OVERVIEW

  • Cincinnati has the sixth fewest combined plays per game with only 118 (CIN + opponent avg)
  • The Vegas total for this game is the third lowest on the main slate
  • Pittsburgh is 28th in plays per game with 55.5
  • Cincinnati ranks 21st at 61

Joe Burrow

  • Per PFF, Joe Burrow leads all QBs in percentage of pressures that result in sacks with 40.9% (Ben Roethlisberger is 10th at 22.2%)
  • 50% of pressures on non-blitzes have resulted in a sack
  • Burrow’s DK point finishes through two weeks: 21st & 25th
  • Burrow’s passing stat lines: 20/27-261-2-0 // 19/30-207-2-3
  • Burrow’s 3 INTs in Week 2 were a career high, professional or collegiate
  • The Bengals have called play action on 27.3% of his dropbacks
  • Last season, the Steelers ranked second in fewest fantasy points allowed to QBs per game (15.6 DK)
  • After facing Josh Allen then Derek Carr, they now rank 19th
  • Burrow’s DK totals: 17.3 // 28.5 // 23.4 // 19.1 // 6.3 // 20.7 // 38.6 // 18.9 // 12.5 // 12.3 // 18.6 // 13.3

CIN Passing Attack

  • Bengals used 11 personnel on 65% of snaps in Week 1 and 69% in Week 2
  • They used that formation 76% in 2020
  • Pittsburgh’s defense is 25th in DK points allowed to the WR position so far, with 48.2 pts per game
  • Rookie Ja’Marr Chase leads all WRs in snap % with 91.1%
  • Ja’Marr’s has seen 19.3% of team targets
  • JaMarr’s DK totals: 23.9 // 13.4
  • Tee Higgins saw a 74% snap share in Week 1
  • That rose to 91% in Week 2
  • He led the team in targets Week 2 with 10
  • His team target % of 26.3 also leads the team
  • Ja’Marr & Tee have each scored two receiving TDs
  • Tee’s DK totals: 6.5 // 21 // 13 // 10.2 // 21.7 // 18.8 // 14.4 // 26.5 // 5.6 // 15.4 // 10.6 // 9.9 // 6.1 // 21.9 // 15.8 // 17
  • Tyler Boyd has seen 79.8% of snaps
  • Boyd’s earned a 22.8% target share
  • He’s run 90.3% of his routes out of the slot so far
  • In 2020, he ran 84.2% from the slot
  • Boyd’s DK totals since 2020: 7.3 // 20.2 // 25.5 // 16.4 // 8.2 // 12.9 // 30.74 // 19.6 // 10.1 // 17.5 // 4.5 // 14.2 // 9.3 // 2.2 // 6.2 // 14.3
  • Burrow has targeted the tight end position just four times in 2020

Joe Mixon

  • Mixon is third in the league in average touches per game at the RB position with 27
  • He finished fourth last season with 23.3
  • He’s second at the position in team snap share with 80.6%
  • His 10.5% team target percentage ranks him just below Ty’Son Williams and just above Antonio Gibson
  • In Week 1, Mixon finished second in DK points
  • In Week 2, he finished 36th
  • He averaged 17.3 DK ppg last season
  • Mixon’s DK totals since Burrow joined the team: 7.1 // 12.6 // 8.5 // 45.1 // 15.4 // 14.9 // 28 // 8.1
  • Through two weeks, PIT allows an average of 12.6 DK ppg to the RB position. That’s fourth fewest in the NFL
  • PIT finished last year at third fewest with 19.2

Ben Roethlisberger

  • Ben is the 32nd ranked QB in PFF grade
  • His 6.7 YPA ranks 25th
  • Only 11.1% of his passes have been thrown deep (20+ yards)
  • That’s 21st through two weeks
  • Ben’s DK point finishes through two weeks: 28th & 24th
  • Ben averaged 19.5 DK ppg last year, the same figure as Joe Burrow
  • Since 2014, Ben’s DK totals against the Bengals: 30.9 // 21.98 // 11.48 // 10.88 // 21.8 // 14.9 // 16.66 // 19 // 24.56 // 14.78 // 32.32 // 8.7
  • He’s averaged 19.84 DK points at home versus the Bengals
  • Ben has an injured pec and his availability in Week 3 is uncertain

PIT Passing Attack

  • Cincinnati is 19th in ppg to WRs with 42.2
  • They finished last season 11th with 35
  • JuJu Smith-Schuster leads the WRs for PIT in snap share at 93.9%
  • His target share is 20.8%
  • JuJu’s caught 10 of his 13 targets for 93 yards
  • JuJu’s DK totals in a home game with a Vegas total of 45 or less: 10.6 // 9.8 // 11.9 // 8.7 // 38.3 // 9.5 // 19.5 // 24.3 // 4.6 // 7.4 // 11.8 // 6.8 // 17.7 // 24.6
  • JuJu’s totals at home versus the Bengals: 11.9 // 14.7 // 4.5 // 22.7
  • Diontae Johnson was next in snap share with 81.6%
  • Diontae’s target share is 30.6%, averaging 11 targets per game
  • He’s caught 14 balls on those 22 targets for 141 yards and 1 TD
  • Diontae’s DK totals at home in low Vegas totals: 7.7 // 19.4 // 1.5 // 10.4 // 4.1 // 10.2 // 23.2 // 0.8 // 12.6 // 21.7
  • Diontae’s DK log versus the Bengals: 18.7 // 5.9 // 26.6 // 19.9
  • Diontae hurt his knee at the end of Week 2 and his availability in Week 3 is uncertain
  • Chase Claypool has played on 71.9% of team snaps
  • Claypool has a 19.4% target share
  • Claypool’s ADoT is 17.4, nearly double the next best WR on PIT
  • He’s caught six of 13 targets for 115 yards
  • Claypool scored 21.3 & 7.8 points versus Cincinnati last season
  • Claypool’s DK log in low Vegas totals: 6.7 // 17.8 // 45.6 // 14.2 // 15.3 // 11.2 // 7.8 // 9.4 // 24.1 // 9.2
  • The 45.6 pt outing came against the Eagles. That game had an O/U of 44, but ended up a shootout that the Steelers won 38-29. Diontae Johnson played just 6 snaps in the game
  • Tight end Pat Freiermuth holds the best PFF grade among all PIT pass catchers, 73.7
  • He’s caught all five of his targets for a total of 60 yards
  • Through 2 weeks, he leads Eric Ebron in snap share 54.4% – 44.7%

Najee Harris

  • Najee played on 100% of snaps in Week 1
  • In Week 2, he played on 95%
  • He leads the RB position league wide with 97.4%
  • Cincinnati has allowed 21.6 DK ppg to the RB position, 15th fewest
  • CIN finished last year at 17th fewest with 23.6
  • Najee finished eighth in scoring last week