The Cincinnati Bengals open the season at home this coming Sunday against the AFC North rival Pittsburgh Steelers in a 1 PM EST showdown. Here are some key things to keep an eye on throughout the matchup.
Who will the Steelers’ starting QB be?
Right now, all the signs point to Mitchell Trubisky being QB1. However, he has yet to be officially named the starter. Rookie Kenny Pickett has had a very solid preseason, raising the conversation. Now, it seems like it will still be Trubisky, but Tomlin could try and make a chess move in the week of the first game. He could be trying to keep it in-house, so the Bengals can’t necessarily game plan for the known starter. Now, Zac Taylor can assume it’s Trubisky and just plan around his style of play, but you never know, and there is always a possibility that Tomlin goes with the rookie, even if it is highly unlikely.
How will the Bengals respond in their first game since the Super Bowl?
This will be the very first game since the Super Bowl loss that genuinely means something towards their record, and it is a division matchup that raises the stakes even more. These early-season division matchups could be vital in specific tiebreaker scenarios.
Many believe in the “Super Bowl hangover,” and this will be the first showing that Joe Burrow and the Bengals will have. If they come out of the gate sloppy, it will start to brew up those conversations, even with it being just one game for the Bengals.
How does Joe Burrow play without having any preseason action under his belt?
This one shouldn’t be too much of a concern, if one at all. Burrow last season didn’t appear in the preseason besides taking 2-3 snaps in the last game and just handing the ball off to the running back and then getting taken out. Burrow once again did not take any snaps in the preseason this year, so this will be his first real live game action of the 2022 season.
The Bengals did hold a joint practice with the Los Angeles Rams that did get competitive, and he was a full participant in those, so that could help as far as a reps standpoint is concerned. Nonetheless, Burrow isn’t the type of player to not be ready or not be in shape. He works hard, and he has a very strong work ethic. That will translate reasonably easily.
– Can the Bengals’ defense have the same success as last year?
This one won’t be able to be answered just in Week 1. But it will be the first test against some very solid offensive weapons. The Steelers have Najee Harris, Diontae Johnson, Chase Claypool, and George Pickens. So they will have their hands full with guys who can make big plays and change a game with their impacts.
It will also be interesting to see how they play the QB, with it not being Ben Roethlisberger, who was kind of stagnant last season. Trubisky and Pickett can both move a lot more in the pocket. This will be another test for the boys up front like Hendrickson, Hubbard, Hill, Reader, and Ossai, who will make his NFL debut for the Bengals after missing all of last season with an injury.
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