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Matchups Week 1: Bengals vs. Steelers

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Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers

Spread: Bengals -6.5

Game Total: 44

Team Totals: Bengals (25.25), Steelers (18.75)

Weather: Outdoors, no concerning conditions currently.

The Line Report

  • The consensus spread for this contest is Bengals -6.5, with a few Bengals -6 options available.
  • This line opened between Bengals -6 and Bengals -6.5.
  • This line has stayed between its opening of Bengals -6 to Bengals -6.5.
  • DraftKings Pick’Em has the Bengals -6.5.
  • Circa Sports Millions Pro Football Contest has the Bengals -6.5.
  • The consensus total for this game is 44-points, with a few 44.5 options available.
  • This total opened between 44 and 44.5 points. It has primarily stayed in that range, occasionally drifting up to 45 points. 

Notable Injuries

Bengals: None (only reserves).

Steelers: None (only reserves).

The Bengals Offense vs. the Steelers Defense

The Steelers have one of the best front fours in the NFL, led by last year’s Defensive Player of the Year T.J. Watt. Pittsburgh still has a notable edge in the trenches against rival Cincinnati, but the Bengals improvements to their offensive line have closed the gap on that advantage.

The Bengals have one of, if not the best wide receiver trio in the sport. They give Cincinnati an edge against just about every secondary in the league.

Notes and Observations

  • The Bengals were 10-7 against the spread in 2021.
  • Cincinnati was 8-8-1 on overs in 2021.
  • The Bengals beat the Steelers twice last year, including a late November blowout in Cincinnati.
  • Per The Edge, the Steelers allowed the second most rushing yards and the 14th most receiving yards to enemy running backs last season.
  • Bengals running back Joe Mixon ran for 90 and then 165 yards in his two matchups against Pittsburgh last season.
  • Pittsburgh yielded the tenth fewest yards to wide receivers last season.
  • The Steelers gave up the 20th most receiving yards to tight ends last season. 

The Steelers Offense vs. Bengals Defense 

High-end offensive line play has been a hallmark of Steelers football for generations. That has not been the case in recent years, as the Steelers have one of the least reliable offensive lines in the NFL right now. The Bengals pass rush is headlined by an excellent edge in Trey Hendrickson. Cincinnati’s front four can give the Steelers issues, especially in the run game, but they are not a game-derailing kind of pass rush.

Mitch Trubisky will start the opener for the Steelers. Pittsburgh has enjoyed Hall of Fame caliber play for most of the last decade and a half with Ben Roethlisberger. The shift to Trubisky sounds worse than it is, as Big Ben’s best football days were behind him the last couple of years.

Notes and Observations

  • The Steelers were 8-9 against the spread in 2021.
  • Pittsburgh was 6-10-1 on overs in 2021.
  • The Bengals beat the Steelers twice last year, including a late November blowout in Cincinnati.
  • Per The Edge, the Bengals allowed the tenth fewest rushing yards and the sixth most receiving yards to running backs last season.
  • Cincinnati yielded the 18th most receiving yards and the 12th most receptions to wide receivers last season.
  • The Bengals gave up the ninth most PPR points to slot receivers in 2021.
  • Steelers wide receiver Chase Claypool saw most of his preseason snaps in the slot this August.
  • The Bengals surrendered the fifth most receiving yards and the fourth most receptions to enemy tight ends last season.
  • Pat Freiermuth was 13th in receptions and 19th in receiving yards among tight ends during his rookie campaign last year.

This is What You’re Betting On in Bengals vs. Steelers

A bet on the Bengals is a bet on an ascending AFC power that nearly took home last year’s title. Joe Burrow is supported by an elite skill group and a much-improved offensive line. The Bengals defense has some difference making players, but they are more of a middle-of-the pack group. If you’re considering a bet on Cincinnati in this spot, you’re primarily betting on Burrow. You’re also looking for the Bengals defensive front to create opportunities against Pittsburgh’s uncharacteristically unreliable offensive line.

A bet on the Steelers is a bet on Mike Tomlin’s extremely consistent football program. Pittsburgh has question marks at quarterback and along their offensive line, which are both far from the norm for Tomlin’s Steelers. But the Steelers still have an elite defensive front and a very talented group of young skill players. The real downside on a Pittsburgh bet in this spot is that it is a direct bet against Joe Burrow.

Winner/Confidence Pool: We should expect the Bengals to be selected in the vast majority of winner pools. If you’re in a large winner pool with weekly payouts, the Steelers are an aggressive differentiator option. In confidence pools I’ll have the Bengals adjacent to the Titans.

Spread Pool: Super Bowl losers are 4-18 ATS since 2000. That is a very lopsided figure. Since Pittsburgh has a realistic path to keeping this a one score game, I’ll consider the Steelers in tournaments.

Survivor: The Bengals aren’t a complete cross off as the biggest home favorite on the slate, but I'd rather use them later in the year.