FBG says: Tough matchup. It's early yet, but there's been little indication that fourth-round rookie Ryan Finley is the Bengals' answer at quarterback. More likely, he was merely the body in place to benefit from Andy Dalton's inevitable benching. Through 2 starts, Finley has completed just 48% of his throws and produced a woeful 4.6 yards per attempt, with a single touchdown and 2 interceptions. He was ghastly last week against the Raiders, doing little but misfiring downfield and checking down well short of the chains. Dalton is almost certainly done in Cincinnati, so Finley should continue to dink and dunk his way along, with little hope for efficiency. Already down wideouts A.J. Green and John Ross, the Bengals lost Auden Tate last week to a concussion. If Tate can't gain clearance, Finley will have little beyond Tyler Boyd and Alex Erickson to target downfield. Last Sunday, Boyd and Erickson combined to catch two passes for zero yards. The running backs may gain a volume bump as Finley looks to keep control of the game, but no one can be counted on to produce here.
The Pittsburgh pass defense continues to post good numbers: just 7.0 yards per attempt and 246 per game, both above-average marks. But it's important to note how much they've been tremendous against the league's lesser quarterbacks. Early in the year, they were worked over in matchups against Tom Brady (341 yards and 3 touchdowns), Russell Wilson (300 and 3), and Jimmy Garoppolo (277 and 1). They showed generally well last week, harassing Baker Mayfield into a shaky game, but allowed just enough splash plays to drive a wedge. That's a running theme, with other recent multi-touchdown games from the likes of Brian Hoyer and Ryan Fitzpatrick. The Steelers have improved greatly on coverage on the outside and deep down the field, where new faces Minkah Fitzpatrick and Steven Nelson have been godsends. But there are liabilities inside, where linebackers Devin Bush and Mark Barron continue to flail badly in coverage. Last week they took turns giving up huge plays to the Browns, including both of Baker Mayfield's touchdowns. The Bengals aren't exactly passing game powerhouses, but they'll at least have a handful of weak spots to pick at this Sunday.