Heading into Sunday’s season opener on the road against the Cincinnati Bengals, the Pittsburgh Steelers are 6.5 point underdogs against the reigning AFC Champions, per Caesars Sportsbook. Earlier today, CBS Analyst Pete Prisco predicted the outcome of each game during Week 1, and he has the Steelers losing to the Bengals 23-20.
“The Steelers come in as a division dog, which is a role Mike Tomlin has done well in as coach, going 14-6. There are concerns about the Steelers offensive line, which is why this number is bloated. But Bengals quarterback Joe Burrow has been dealing with appendicitis all preseason, which might lead to some rust. The Steelers will hang around in this one, but the Bengals will win it late,” Prisco wrote.
If that was the end result, obviously Pittsburgh would cover the spread, but not getting the win after hanging around as he predicts would hurt. The concerns about Pittsburgh’s offensive line are very legitimate, and if the team is without starting offensive tackle Chukwuma Okorafor, who missed practice today with a back injury, they become even more pronounced.
Pittsburgh is a bit of a wild card entering this season, as a new quarterback in Mitch Trubisky along with new faces along the offensive line and at wide receiver means there’s a little bit of unpredictability as to how they’ll perform. At some point, even when he was diminished the last two seasons, you knew what sort of performance you could expect out of Ben Roethlisberger. While it was usually ugly, it was somewhat predictable. With the new-look offense, we only have their training camp preseason performance to go off, and we haven’t seen them play a full four quarters together.
If Pittsburgh managed to only lose by three to Cincinnati, I don’t think that would be a bad thing by any means. Obviously, winning would be a whole lot better, but the Bengals are expected to be towards the top of the AFC for a second-straight year, while a lot of pundits and oddsmakers have the Steelers last in the AFC North.
If they’re able to show Week 1 that they can hang with one of the best teams in the AFC, that would be a positive sign going forward. The Steelers are a team that you can expect to get better as the year goes on as they begin to gel and guys have more familiarity with the offense and what they’re expected to do.
This is a little bit of a pointless exercise because none of us can see the future, and the Steelers could lose 23-20 on Sunday and look absolutely awful. But based off the final score prediction alone, I don’t think too many fans would be upset with that score. Going forward, the offense would have to score more than 20 points for Pittsburgh to have a successful season, but based off Prisco’s prediction, I think that result would be a solid starting point for the 2022 Steelers.