Steelers +7 -125 over Bengals
1:00 PM EST
Betting Line Provider: BetOnline
In my Rams writeup I touched on the Super Bowl hangover being a farce in Week 1 for the Super Bowl winner, but it is very much a real thing for the Super Bowl loser. Dating back to the start of the 1998 season the Super Bowl loser has gone 9-14 SU and 6-17 ATS in Week 1. I never base my handicap on trends alone but that is a STRONG under-the-radar subset that is hard to ignore.The Bengals are a team who I will be looking to bet on the road this season but fade at home, especially when they are laying inflated points like they are in this instance. The Bengals were the best road team in the NFL last season, an elite 9-2 (81.2%) ATS, but they were among one of the worst home favorites. In nine regular season home games last year, Cincinnati won exactly two by over a field goal — certainly not a team I am running to the window to lay points with in Week 1.
That is especially true this year after Joe Burrow missed extended time after an emergency appendectomy — an operation which led to him losing 20 pounds. Burrow, for as great as he has been in his young career, has never had a full offseason to prepare as a professional QB. He was a rookie in 2020 and was recovering from a torn ACL ahead of last year’s campaign. Last year he had to play his way into form as the season progressed and I look for more of the same this year. I do not expect him to be in midseason form in this game after sitting out virtually the entire preseason — far from it.
Mike Tomlin is excellent in the underdog role, 45-24 ATS in his career, and he is an outstanding Week 1 coach as well. Let’s not forget the Steelers won outright as a touchdown road underdog against the Bills to open last season and won and covered as road chalk in their season opener against the Jets in 2020. Tomlin has won six straight Week 1 openers despite playing on the road in Week 1 every year. The Steelers also fit into the same profitable subsets that the Texans fall into, both as divisional home dogs in Week 1 and underdogs of 6.5 or more points.
I am a believer in Mitch Trubisky who had a strong preseason where he showed real chemistry with his bevy of talented offensive weapons. The Steelers offensive line is not good, but Trubisky’s athleticism and ability to extend the play with his legs will be a big factor in this game and provide a wrinkle to the Pittsburgh offense that they haven’t had in over a decade with the immobile and decrepit Ben Roethlisberger. Before last season the Steelers have beaten the Bengals in 23 of the last 28 meetings, but the Bengals smacked them twice last season which will just be extra motivation for this Week 1 affair. This is way too many points for an opening week divisional game between two comparable teams and don’t be shocked in the least if the Steelers make it a seventh straight opening season win. Live dog! Steelers +7.
@QuanNFL on Twitter