Kickoff Sunday, Sep 11th 1:00pm Eastern

Steelers (
18.75) at

Bengals (
25.75)

Over/Under 44.5

Tweet
Notes

Key Matchups
Steelers Run D
5th DVOA/5th Yards allowed per carry
Bengals Run O
9th DVOA/29th Yards per carry
Steelers Pass D
18th DVOA/32nd Yards allowed per pass
Bengals Pass O
10th DVOA/15th Yards per pass
Bengals Run D
16th DVOA/12th Yards allowed per carry
Steelers Run O
23rd DVOA/23rd Yards per carry
Bengals Pass D
10th DVOA/23rd Yards allowed per pass
Steelers Pass O
21st DVOA/31st Yards per pass

Game Overview ::

By hilow >>
  • The Steelers are sure to carry a wide range of potential outcomes as far as efficiency and scoring are concerned to start the year, considering the multitude of moving pieces and an offensive coordinator that designs his offense to maximize the talent on the field.
  • The biggest change for the Bengals is a complete overhaul and improvement of their offensive line heading into 2022, which should influence their play calling and game plan a good deal.
  • Wide range of outcomes concerning potential game flows, largely dependent on what the Steelers can muster offensively.
  • Very clear optimal plans of attack based on the range of potential outcomes of those game flows.

How pittsburgh Will Try To Win ::

Mike Tomlin enters his 16th season as the Steelers head coach, joined by the second-year offensive coordinator and play caller Matt Canada and new defensive coordinator Teryl Austin via the in-house promotion. There are a few things to take away from the coaches alone – Matt Canada is adept at tailoring an offense to the strengths of his players, meaning we should look to those strengths to get a better feel for how the offense should look; Teryl Austin has been with the organization since 2019 and has previous defensive coordinator experience (Lions 2014-2017 and Bengals 2018); and, finally, the identity of the team should remain with the retention of Tomlin (who has received some backlash from fans over the previous two seasons). That said, the rebuild is in full effect for these Steelers in 2022. Not only has their defense continued to regress over the previous three seasons (22nd-ranked total defense in 2021), but they come into 2022 with a bottom-five ranked offensive line and a new quarterback. Speaking of the new quarterback, Mitch Trubisky has all but assuredly won the offseason quarterback battle, beating out rookie Kenny Pickett. So, when we circle back to Canada and his ability to design an offense around the players on the field, we’re left with a journeyman quarterback behind a poor offensive line and declining defense (which influences play calling). The biggest issue with Trubisky behind a poor offensive line is his slower-than-average processing speed and long release time, which could mean a plethora of sacks taken this year, backing up the offense to long down and distance to go and stalled drives. At the same time, however, the plus arm strength and ability to throw into tighter windows can help offset those discrepancies should Canada place him in the past environment to succeed, which I think he can.

Najee Harris is one of the true bell cow backs remaining in the NFL, and based on the depth behind him at the position; I expect that to remain the case moving forward. The biggest issue is expected efficiency, as Harris is coming off a season of 3.9 yards per carry on 307 totes. The expected and proven pass game involvement, in addition to elite volume, will keep him in weekly consideration regardless of the opponent. The matchup is a net-negative for Najee on the ground against a revamped zone-based Bengals defense, but one of the glaring holes in the defensive scheme for Cincinnati is passes to running backs out of the backfield (filtered 135 targets to the position in 2021, fourth most in the league). Behind Najee, I tentatively expect rookie Jaylen Warren to serve as nothing more than a sparsely utilized change of pace back, with Benny Snell on hand for emergency usage (this situation still isn’t entirely clear, so Snell might start the season in a backup role, but the volume shouldn’t matter, regardless).

In stark contrast to the talent on the roster in the trenches, the pass-catching corps of Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, George Pickens, Pat Freiermuth, and the aforementioned Najee Harris is one of the more dynamic units in the league. One of the more interesting developments with this unit this offseason is the shifting of Claypool from a perimeter role to the slot, which was a product of the release of Juju Smith-Schuster and replacement by George Pickens. That kind of athleticism out of the slot is not something often seen at the NFL level, which will create routine mismatches against typically undersized slot coverage. Considering our exploration of the offensive design above, I would expect we see a re-emphasis on ball-out-quick timing, layered crossing routes designed to stress coverage, high running back route involvement, and the occasional deep shot built off of it all. That means this offense, and Mitch Trubisky in particular is going to have to be efficient in order to sustain drives and put points on the board. It can be done, as we’ve seen in the past, but we’re likely to see a relatively wide range of weekly outcomes from this team to start the season.

<< Add Access >>

OWS FREE

(No CC Required!)

By Alex88 >>

OVERVIEW

  • CIN has the 2nd highest team total on the Week 1 main slate
  • PIT has the 2nd lowest
  • CIN enters the season with a median ranked consensus offensive line ranking
  • PIT’s line is universally ranked in the lowest quartile, among the worst 8 offensive lines if not the worst

PIT QBs

  • Mitch Trubisky’s PFF passing grade/DK ppg each season as a starter:
    • 2017: 71.2 (16th) / 12.3 (23rd)
    • 2018: 57.8 (28th) / 20.7 (6th)
    • 2019: 63.6 (24th) / 14.7 (28th)
    • 2020: 60.5 (33rd) / 16.4 (23rd)
  • Averaged 4.1% TD rate, 2.4% INT rate, & 208 ypg on 6.7 ypa
  • 20.7 rushing ypg along with 8 rushing TDs
  • QBs averaged 19.2 DK ppg vs. CIN last season
  • Kenny Pickett received PFF’s highest passing grade in the NCAA last season
  • Preseason PFF grades/YPA:
    • Trubisky: W1 – 64.7 / 9.0, W2 – 72.6 / 7.5, W3 – 76.7 / 8.4
    • Pickett: W1 – 63.9 / 6.3, W2 – 79.8 / 10.9, W3 – 78.7 / 6.4

PIT Passing Attack

  • PFF receiving grades / yards per route run in the preseason: Diontae Johnson 84.0 / 3.23, Chase Claypool 81.1 / 2.9, George Pickens 75.4 / 1.62, Pat Freiermuth 78.1 / 2.86
  • Diontae led PIT last season with 10.6 targets per game for a 25.5% target share
  • His 18.2 DK ppg ranked 8th, but he only cracked 25 pts twice
  • Last year, Claypool played out of the slot on less than 20% of his snaps
  • In his lone preseason appearance, that figure was 83.3%
  • He averaged only 10.8 DK ppg last year
  • In two seasons, he’s scored 20+ DK pts just twice
  • In college, Pickens averaged 15.0 ypc & 2.35 YPRR
  • All three PIT WRs cost $6k or less on DK in Week 1
  • CIN allowed the 14th fewest DK ppg to WRs last year
  • Three opposing WRs scored 20+ DK pts vs. CIN: Davante Adams 40.6, Adam Thielen 30.2, & Keenan Allen 22.4
  • Freiermuth averaged 9.4 DK ppg, scoring 12+ DK pts four times
  • CIN ranked 29th in DK ppg allowed to TEs (16)
  • Notable opposing TE scores: George Kittle 37.1, Darren Waller 21.6, Travis Kelce 13.4

Najee Harris

  • Last season, Najee led the NFL in snap share and target share
  • He was second in touches per game & opportunities per game
  • His 18.9 DK ppg ranked fourth
  • He scored 20+ DK pts 8 times
  • $6,400 DK salary is the 12th most expensive
  • CIN allowed 24 DK ppg to the RB position last season
  • Opposing RBs averaged 0.8 rushTDs per game & 8.2 targets per game (4th most)

Joe Burrow

  • Led all QBs in PFF passing grade, completion %, and YPA last season
  • 21.6 DK ppg ranked 10th
  • He scored 20+ DK pts 8 times, including two 30+ games & one 40+ game
  • $6,400 DK salary is the 8th most expensive
  • PIT ranked 12th in DK ppg allowed to QBs (18.2)
  • In three games versus PIT, Burrow has yet to hit 20 DK pts
  • Ceiling performances allowed to opposing QBs in 2021: Herbert 38.3, Carr 27.2, Rodgers 24.1, Mahomes 22.3

CIN Passing Attack

  • 2021 WR snap/target shares: Ja’Marr Chase 85.5% / 23.1%, Tyler Boyd 73.5% / 16.9%, Tee Higgins 64.6% / 19.8%
  • Among qualified WRs, Chase ranked 2nd in YPC & YAC/rec, and 5th in YPRR
  • His 19.8 DK ppg ranked 5th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts four times
  • His $7,100 DK salary is the fourth most expensive
  • Higgins ranked 6th in YPC & 8th in YPRR
  • His 16.6 DK ppg ranked 11th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts three times
  • His $6,100 DK salary is the 14th priciest
  • Boyd averaged 11.7 DK ppg
  • He scored 20+ DK pts twice
  • PIT ranked 13th in DK ppg allowed to WRs
  • Only two WRs scored 20+ DK pts vs. PIT
  • Hayden Hurst has averaged fewer than 6 DK ppg in his four year career
  • Last season, C.J. Uzomah managed two 20+ DK scores as the primary TE for CIN
  • Only Mark Andrews & David Njoku scored 12+ DK pts vs. PIT last year

Joe Mixon

  • Mixon was 6th in snap share & 3rd in rush share among all RBs last season
  • He only managed an 8.6% target share (25th)
  • His 18.6 DK ppg ranked 6th
  • He scored 25+ DK pts seven times
  • His $7,100 DK salary is the 7th most expensive
  • PIT ranked 26th in DK ppg allowed last year (26.5)
  • Mixon was one of three RBs to crack 30 DK pts vs. PIT