The Steelers are at the UPMC Rooney Sports Complex, informally known as the South Side facility, now into the regular season. It’s where they otherwise train all year round, and the facility that Burt Lauten insists everybody refers to by its full name.
There are still unsettled questions that need answering, even deep into the regular season. They entered the process with questions in the starting lineup, in scheme, and elsewhere, but new problems always arise that need to be resolved.
Even questions about who’s starting and when may not have satisfactory answers in their finality, as midseason changes are certainly quite possible, for some positions more than others. We’re also feeling out how the new coordinator posts—or posts in new contexts—end up playing out.
There’s never any shortage of questions when it comes to football, and we’ll be discussing them here on a daily basis for the community to “talk amongst yourselves”, as Linda Richman might say on Coffee Talk.
Question: How much more dangerous are the Bengals since the Steelers faced them in the season opener?
The Steelers have gone 2-6 in the eight games they have played since the season opener. The Bengals have gone 5-3 in their subsequent eight. Clearly one team has gotten worse over time and the other has gotten better.
Granted, the Steelers losing T.J. Watt for a seven-game stretch was a huge deal for them and they’re clearly a different team now that he is back. But the Bengals also didn’t have their franchise quarterback playing at his best after missing most of training camp and regular season preparation due to appendicitis.
Burrow played one of the worst games in his young career in week one with four interceptions—he’s thrown only two in total since then—one of which, his first pass of the season, was returned for a pick six.
Having a healthier and better-prepared Joe Burrow makes a big difference for the Bengals, though at the same time they are not going to have star wide receiver Ja’Marr Chase. They have turned more to their running game with Joe Mixon in his absence, who did score five touchdowns in his last game.
Both teams need this game to remain competitive this season, though the Steelers need it a lot more. Already with six losses on the season, they really can’t afford to lose any games, quite frankly. And the Bengals did beat them three games in a row prior to the ‘appendicitis game’, which didn’t go as well for Burrow as games named after player illnesses tend to go.
Of course, a lot of Steelers fans are actually hoping the team loses because they’ve shifted their priority to the 2023 NFL Draft, and a worse record improves their draft slot. There’s a fair chance Pittsburgh may not need much help granting these fans their wish on Sunday. A healthy Burrow may be all that was missing in week one.