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Steelers Vs Bengals Prediction

As we’ve done in the past, the keys to the Pittsburgh Steelers winning (or losing) today’s game. Three things that need to happen for them to end up on the right side of the score and vice versa in today’s game against the Cincinnati Bengals.

My prediction is at the bottom.

THE STEELERS WILL WIN IF…

1. Steelers Run The Ball Between The Tackles

Pittsburgh needs to continue its strong run game. That’s obvious. How you do it is a different story. The Steelers offered a varied scheme but I’d keep it between the B gaps, tackle to tackle. Inside zone and duo. Their linebackers are athletic, DE Sam Hubbard is a monster on the edge, and they pursue well on the backside of gap schemes. A simple, downhill approach is the ticket, though the ground game got a bit harder with the Bengals returning interior plugger D.J. Reader.

2. Offense Finishes In The Red Zone

An obvious one. Steelers are 28th in red zone play and they’re even worse with Kenny Pickett, converting just 38% of the time on the season. That’s not going to be enough to be a Bengals’ offense still high-powered despite missing WR Ja’Marr Chase. They have to finish drives especially without having a steady kicker like Chris Boswell. Field goals aren’t going to cut it.

3. Cam Heyward (Re)welcomes Himself

Heyward got the party started this season with a sack on the very first snap of the game, schooling rookie LG Cordell Volson. Volson is still a rookie but certainly has a lot more experience and we’ll see how he looks a second time around. Despite on-paper upgrades to their line, Burrow has still been sacked a ton this year. Pittsburgh might not hit seven sacks again but Heyward needs to be a pocket-collapser to make T.J. Watt and Alex Highsmith even more effective.

The STEELERS WILL LOSE IF…

1. Pickett & Protection Struggle Versus The Blitz

What I wrote about as yesterday’s X-Factor. Count on the Bengals offering plenty of blitz-heavy and aggressive looks on 3rd and 5+. They’re not a super heavy blitz team but are very aggressive when they decide to be. How Pickett and the protection, the backs, the line, and even the receivers handle and adjust will be critical to this team’s success.

2. Tight Ends Don’t Block Well Enough

On Tuesday, Mike Tomlin talked about the need for bigger tight ends like Zach Gentry to block 4-3 ends like the New Orleans Saints had. It’ll be the same story against the Bengals’ even front. Despite Pittsburgh’s immense rushing success, Freiermuth nor Gentry did a great job run blocking against the Saints and need to be up to the task against Hubbard, Trey Hendrickson, and everyone else as part of that deep Bengals’ rotation.

3. Defense Doesn’t Create (Enough) Splash

Five turnovers was barely enough for the Steelers to pull off the Week One win. It’s hard to imagine they’ll hit that number again today but they certainly can’t have zero or one turnover and expect to come out on top. Two feels like the minimum with three giving Pittsburgh a good chance to complete the season sweep. But you can bet on the Bengals talking about ball security all week and since the opener, Joe Burrow’s thrown only two interceptions.

PREDICTION

Bengals: 23
Steelers: 16

SEASON PREDICTION RECORD

4-5

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