Where: Heinz Field in Pittsburgh, PA
When: Sunday, 9/26 @ 1:00 PM EST
How to watch: CBS (Channel 12 locally)
TV Crew: Kevin Harlan and Trent Green are the commentators with Melanie Collins as the sideline reporter
Line: Steelers -3.0
Injuries Taking a Toll
For the 19th straight regular season game, Trae Waynes will be out on Sunday. Zac Taylor also told the media that Xavier Sua’Filo and Tee Higgins are considered doubtful. Newly-signed safety Sean Davis was called up from the practice squad again.
Pittsburgh, however, is missing quite possibly their best player on each side of the ball. Diontae Johnson hurt his knee in garbage time last week and will miss the game. TJ Watt missing the game with a groin injury is probably the best news Joe Burrow has heard this week. Alex Highsmith and Carlos Davis will also miss the game for Pittsburgh.
Sunday’s game features two offenses severely struggling, and I don’t think that changes here. Bengals’ rookie 2nd round pick Jackson Carman is slated to make his NFL debut against a very good Steelers’ front. Obviously, Carman was not yet ready when the season started. Or at least the coaches thought so. It’ll be interesting to see how far he’s come along in recent weeks.
Cincinnati is looking to rebound from what might’ve been Joe Burrow’s worst professional game. Zac Taylor’s play-calling didn’t exactly help him out, though, and I’m most interested to see if he’ll start to unleash Ja’Marr Chase downfield. With Tee Higgins looking like he’ll miss his first game this year, that probably becomes much harder. Taylor has one road win in his two-plus years as head coach.
The Steelers offensive line is among the worst in the NFL. They haven’t been able to run the ball efficiently and they are faced with the task of matching up against a Bengals’ defense that hasn’t let either Dalvin Cook or David Montgomery run the ball. With Pittsburgh missing their favorite weapon and Cincinnati likely to be missing theirs, it is setting up to be a low scoring AFC North struggle.
X-Factor: Steelers DL vs Bengals OL
Prediction: I have a gut feeling that Zac Taylor will listen to his players, who essentially called him out for being conservative in the week 2 loss, and be aggressive. I expect the tight ends to be a lot more involved than they have been to begin the season. But without Tee Higgins, on the road, against a tough Steelers defense, it might not matter too much. Cam Heyward and company are going to give Jackson Carman everything he can handle and then some. I really find it hard to see either team scoring a lot of points. A big special teams play might be the deciding factor. TJ Watt missing the game will be beneficial to the Bengals, but at the end of the day I don’t see the Bengals protecting Joe Burrow enough to win what will likely be a heated game. Once again the defense keeps it close, and once again Ja’Marr Chase finds the endzone, but once again… Cincinnati falls short on the road. Pittsburgh wins 19-16.
MVP: Devin Bush