This week has some games that could be very entertaining. This, however, is probably not one of them, as the Pittsburgh Steelers have opened as 14.5-point favorites over the Cincinnati Bengals in their Week 17 matchup at Heinz Field.
Kickoff is set for 4:25pm EST on December 30th.
Simply put, Cincinnati’s offense has been a problem this season. They struggle when taking to the air, averaging just 214.6 passing yards per game (23rd), and handing the ball off hasn’t been kind either, managing just 103.8 rushing yards per game (22nd).
The Bengals have at least taken advantage of the rare times they do move the football, scoring 23.7 points per game (15th).
Jeff Driskell has basically been what we expected since taking over for Andy Dalton under center in Week 13. Joe Mixon has been able to carry the offense a little, putting together 111 and 129-yard rushing performances.
But Driskell will need his best performance yet if Cincinnati is to keep this one competitive.
Cincinnati is going to need every bit of offense they can muster in Week 17, as their defense has been disgraceful this season. The Bengals are giving up 29.3 points per game, which is the most in the NFL.
It’s no surprise teams are having an easy time scoring on them, as they cannot stop the run or pass, ranking 29th and 30th, respectively.
Cincinnati’s defense will certainly be tested this week against a desperate Pittsburgh offense that is scoring points at will.
The Steelers no longer control their own fate after losing to the Saints last week. Even with a win, they still need help to get into the playoffs. But it does start with a win of their own.
Thanks to a potent aerial attack, the Steelers are scoring 27.5 points per game (fourth). Ben Roethlisberger has been great for Pittsburgh this year, throwing for 4,842 yards (most in NFL) with a 33:15 TD to INT ratio, good for a 97.3 passer rating.
Roethlisberger wouldn’t want all the credit, though, as JuJu Smith-Schuster and the rest of his receivers have been great. His go-to receiver has brought in 106 passes for 1,389 receiving yards (4th) and six TDs this season.
The success Roethlisberger has had through the air has hidden Pittsburgh’s mediocre ground game. Led by James Conner, who has totaled 909 rushing yards, the Steelers average a reasonable 4.2 yards per carry (20th in the NFL).
They haven’t been horrible on the ground, but this offense relies on the brilliance of Roethlisberger.
Defensively, the Steelers are a pretty mediocre unit, as well. They allow 23.1 points per game, ranking 15th in the NFL.
They’ve been strong against the run, giving up just 94.2 yards per game on the ground (sixth-fewest). But they’ve been just average defending the pass. Pittsburgh is surrendering 241.7 passing yards per game (16th).
The last time these two teams played was October 14th, 2018, when Pittsburgh surprised the Bengals 28-21. The Bengals were 1.5-point favorites in that game.