Pittsburgh Steelers: 4 bold predictions for Week 1 vs. Bengals
With a Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 game scheduled against the Bengals, new QB Mitch Trubisky will be placed under the microscope. Can he effectively direct the Steelers offense, or will Mike Tomlin have to call Kenny Pickett up to the field? Ahead of this Steelers-Bengals game, we’ll be making our Pittsburgh Steelers Week 1 predictions.
In two encounters last season, the Steelers fell to their division rivals, the Bengals. Needless to say, Pittsburgh wants some payback.
In an effort to do just that, the Steelers offense was retooled throughout the offseason. Despite that, they may still lack the firepower to compete with the defending AFC champion in Week 1 of the 2022 NFL season.
The Steelers also carry a quarterback disadvantage. Mitchell Trubisky is the current starter on the depth chart, but that might change at some point in the season. He may do better than Ben Roethlisberger did last season, but he’s surely nowhere near Joe Burrow’s current quality.
If the Steelers can open the season with a win over the Bengals, that would be a tremendous shocker. It might also help keep Trubisky’s spot as the de facto starter moving forward. Let’s now dive into our Steelers Week 1 predictions.
With Sunday's season opener approaching, the Bengals are giving their take on the Steelers defense, Minkah Fitzpatrick, rookie George Pickens and more.
— Teresa Varley (@Teresa_Varley) September 8, 2022
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4. George Pickens with a YouTube-worthy highlight
George Pickens has looked quite good in camp and in his lone preseason appearance. He caught three passes for 35 yards in the Steelers’ preseason game against the Detroit Lions.
Pickens has received a lot of preseason attention, and it has been well-deserved. Recall that in his touchdown reception against Detroit, the youngster showed off his footwork with a great toe tap. Combine that with his focus on the deep ball, and it’s easy to understand why the Steelers adore Pickens. By all indications, he should have a good year ahead. Pickens will be entertaining to watch during the regular season, and it all starts this weekend against Cincinnati.
We’re not sure he’ll get more than 60 yards receiving, but he should be good for at least one YouTube-worthy highlight play in this game.
3. Chase Claypool records 80+ yards and 1 TD
Every week this season, Chase Claypool and Diontae Johnson will fight for the most targets. The competition should benefit the Steelers’ offense, but there may be times when one guy shines brighter than the other.
Last season, both players had success on the road in Cincinnati. Johnson had nine catches for 95 yards, while Claypool had three for 82 yards. This coming weekend, Claypool should have a bit of an edge, especially if Johnson’s injury really hampers or (worse) sidelines him.
Claypool is the sure deal in this kind of scenario. As Trubisky seeks to create some connection with his new teammates in regular-season action, Claypool may have that edge, as well as that constant big-play potential. Expect him to put up 80+ receiving yards and 1 TD against the Bengals.
2. Mitchell Trubisky throws just 1 TD
When he was with the Chicago Bears, Mitchell Trubisky threw multiple touchdown passes in a season-opening game just once. That should not really be surprising given Trubisky’s 17 multi-touchdown outings in 46 games in which he attempted more than 20 throws.
Of course, he’s never had this kind of talent in Chicago. The increase in skill surrounding him in Pittsburgh will make Trubisky more dangerous by default. Aside from a solid receiving unit headlined by the aforementioned Claypool, Johnson, and Pickens, the Steelers also have other key guys. Among them are second-year tight end Pat Freiermuth and dependable running back Najee Harris.
Trubisky’s numbers would appear to improve with all of that talent surrounding him. Still, remember that he will play in only his first regular-season game with all of those guys. They will also face a Cincinnati defense that held opponents under 20 points in eight games last season. Two of those performances were against the Steelers.
The Bengals know how to handle Claypool, Harris, and Johnson, and they should put pressure on Trubisky right from the onset to get him out of his comfort zone. There’s a chance the Bengals’ defense completely shuts Trubisky out from the endzone, but with so much skill around him, he should at least have 1 passing TD in this game.
1. Steelers fall anew, but not without a fight
When the Steelers lose this game, the Kenny Pickett chants might sound louder than ever.
The reality is Mike Tomlin’s squad will play on the road against one of the finest QBs in the league. Remember also that the Bengals have a high-powered passing offense that humiliated the Steelers twice last year by a total score of 65-20.
This is an important divisional game, and the outcome might have an impact on the AFC North rankings towards the latter stages of the season. Fans are eager to see how the new Pittsburgh Steelers will look after a long summer loaded with changes and turmoil.
The Steelers were blown out 41-10 the previous time these two teams met in Week 12 of last season. While Joe Burrow was restricted to 190 yards throwing with one touchdown and one interception in that match, Bengals running back Joe Mixon went past the defense for 165 yards and two touchdowns.
Fans believe Pittsburgh will fare better this time, but this is still a very difficult matchup for them. The Steelers’ cornerbacks will struggle to contain Ja’Marr Chase and Tee Higgens, which is why putting pressure on Burrow early and often will be critical.
Last year, Pittsburgh managed to upset Josh Allen and the Buffalo Bills in Week 1. Sadly, that won’t happen again here. The Steelers will drop another one to the Bengals, but at least this one should not be a blowout. Nonetheless, do you agree with our Steelers Week 1 predictions?