Game Overview ::
By mike johnson >>
- This is a rematch of a Week 1 game that the Steelers won on the back of their defense and Cincinnati turnovers.
- After failing to score 30 points in their first five games, the Bengals have scored 30+ in three of their last four games.
- The Steelers have not scored over 20 offensive points in a game this season.
- Both teams play at a league average tempo and throw the ball at an above average rate, with Cincinnati doing so in a much more efficient manner.
How cincinnati Will Try To Win ::
The Bengals have played two games without Ja’Marr Chase. In those games, they had one game against the Browns where they looked completely lost and had their worst offensive performance of the season. In the other game, they absolutely stomped the Panthers while using Joe Mixon as a true offensive centerpiece, as he had a monster game in the box score. While Mixon’s career day was partially caused by the Bengals turning more to their running game after their ugly performance in Cleveland, the reality is that they threw the ball on eight of their first 12 offensive plays and their success on the ground had more to do with the final play calling split than a giant philosophy shift.
It is important to understand the context of that Week 9 game before the Bengals bye week because this week they face a Steelers defense that has struggled significantly against high octane passing offenses, giving up eight touchdown passes and over 700 passing yards combined to the Bills and Eagles, while ranking top-10 in the league by almost any metric. Joe Burrow also threw for 340 yards in the first meeting between these teams, the issue was just keeping him upright, as the Steelers had seven sacks in that game. The Bengals offensive line is still not very good, but they have improved since that season opening loss. I would expect the Bengals to try to strike quickly in this game to take some air out of the Steelers defense and put some pressure on their offense to open things up for Kenny Pickett, hoping that leads to mistakes and a bigger lead.
The Bengals are third in the NFL in pass rate over expectation, but that number is skewed for this week due to the absence of Chase. We should expect a more balanced attack from Cincinnati, like we saw in Week 9, with the potential for more of Mixon’s usage to be through the passing game if/when the Steelers load the box. The Steelers defense has also struggled historically against slot wide receivers and occasionally tight ends, making Hayden Hurst and Tyler Boyd candidates for busy days. Finally, we’ve seen big bodied downfield receivers do a lot of damage against the Steelers and we could see Tee Higgins be a true alpha receiver for the first time since Chase left the lineup. The Steelers defense is solid and will likely give them a good test, but I expect the Bengals to make a concerted effort to jump out on top and let their momentum carry them to another big win.
How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::
Mike Johnson >>
- Despite Joe Mixon’s massive game in Week 10, he’s a player I’m struggling to decide on. The matchup and game environment don’t look great and his price has risen significantly – especially on Fanduel. Mixon is more appealing to me on Draftkings as I could see him being heavily involved as a receiver as a means of countering the Steelers pass rush. I will likely play some Mixon on DK, but he won’t be one of my top two or three RBs from this slate.
- The Bengals passing attack is very intriguing to me on this slate. We know what Burrow and company are capable of in a given week and as I outlined above I could see the Bengals really laying it on if they get the chance. I think the Bengals passing game is the most likely spot to be the stack you “had to have” at low ownership this week. Burrow doubles are firmly in play for me.
- Tee Higgins seems like he’s going really overlooked. There have been two games without Chase and the Bengals played awful in the first then Mixon stole the show in a blowout over the Panthers. Higgins is a true alpha at this point and is tied to one of the top passing quarterbacks in the game. With the running game likely to have more difficulty this week and the WR position a little thin on this slate I think Higgins can be a difference maker.
- Tyler Boyd’s price feels uncomfortable because of the player we all perceive him as. The reality, though, is that he’s a very talented player in his own right and his role provides a “better than advertised” ceiling.
- Hayden Hurst is a great option to use in Burrow stacks thanks to his low price tag and it’s always a good idea to correlate your TE position, especially when salary saving. He also provides some roster flexibility due to the game’s late start time.
- On the Pittsburgh side, Najee Harris appears healthy so the backfield should once again be split, which makes both players relatively thin.
- That being said, Warren is an interesting piece for large field tournaments as Harris could easily get banged up with the knee issue he came out of last week with or Warren could get the lion’s share of the work if PIT falls behind. Warren is a consideration for me as a correlated piece with Burrow stacks due to the dicey state of RB this week.
- The Steelers main three receiving options on the slate – Diontae, Pickens, Freiermuth – are also in play for me as salary savers with volume and/or correlated with Bengals pieces.