So, the preview is going to be shorter than usual this week. As luck would have it, I am in Cincinnati, playing in this chess tournament (if I run into any Bengals players, I’ll make sure to direct them to the nearest bar). Therefore, I don’t have as much time to write as I normally would. All I’ll say about last week’s game is: if a graph can be sickening, this would be it, and surprisingly (read: not surprisingly at all), Joe Flacco was the top performer in terms of both Win Probability Added and Expected Points Added, with 1.12 and 20.6, respectively.
The Steelers actually went up in DVOA ranking after last week, to 11th from 12th. Their weighted DVOA ranking is ninth, showing just how awful their Week 1 performance was. The Steelers are currently ninth in offense and 13th in defense. The Bengals are 15th overall and in weighted DVOA, 19th in offense, and tenth in defense. The main things to be gleaned from the specific defensive numbers: the Steelers are now 29th in the league against non-#1 or #2 receivers, and are 22nd in rush defense, and the Bengals are 20th and 22nd against #1 and #2 recivers, respectively. Look for steady doses of Cedric Benson, Andre Caldwell, Mike Wallace, and Antonio Brown.
QuantCoach’s Coaching Stats
I’m Still Going to Do a Prediction, I’m Sure You’re Excited
The DVOA numbers pretty much confirm what the conventional wisdom says: that the Bengals are better than last year, but they have faced a poor schedule (26th in the NFL), and this game will go a long way toward determining if they are a true playoff-caliber team. Meanwhile, the Steelers aren’t an elite team, but their only losses have been to the third and fifth-best teams. I think the home-field advantage will swing a call or two the Bengals’ way, and the two teams are close enough in skill that it may determine the outcome of the game. However, if the Steelers’ run defense plays anywhere close to the elite level it has been in recent years, Andy Dalton will be forced to throw more often, which plays right into Troy Polamalu’s literal hands. All right, I’m stalling too much. I think the Steelers will come out focused, but the home-field advantage will mean the game stays close into the fourth quarter, which is never a good sign. Bengals 21, Steelers 17.