ESPN NFL analyst Marcus Spears picks Bengals over Steelers without Ben Roethlisberger

Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers 12 30 2018
Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers 12 30 2018 /

ESPN NFL analyst Marcus Spears said no when asked if the Pittsburgh Steelers can defeat the Bengals on Sunday without quarterback Ben Roethlisberger.

A Pittsburgh Steelers press release on Monday announced quarterback Ben Roethlisberger was placed on the COVID-19 reserve list Monday. Pittsburgh struggled offensively in 2019 with Roethlisberger out for the majority of the season. The Bengals chances of winning would go up significantly with Roethlisberger out.

On ESPN NFL Live on Monday analyst Marcus Spears who spent nine seasons in the NFL as a defensive end answered no when asked if he thought the Steelers could defeat the Bengals without Roethlisberger. Spears likes the way the Bengals are playing and calls them a scary team.

Spears credits Joe Burrow for raising the play of the Bengals offense. Cincinnati was 30th in scoring in 2019 averaging 17.4 PPG, 26th in total offense, 19th in passing and 25th in rushing. With Burrow, Cincinnati has improved to 20th in scoring averaging 24.3 PPG, 20th in total offense 10th in passing and 23rd in rushing.

The Bengals defense has improved this season as well. Cincinnati was 30th allowing 26.3 PPG in 2019. This season the Bengals have improved to 20th but are allowing slightly more scoring allowing 26.8 PPG. Roethlisberger missed all but two games in 2019. Pittsburgh finished 8-8 without their star QB.

"“Joe Burrow and Cincinnati, they’re playing good. Like, last week they get a W. They are playing well…That’s a scary team now. Joe Burrow, he’s legit raised the level of play for the Cincinnati Bengals. And now you’re starting to see A.J. Green get involved and (Tyler) Boyd has been involved.Like this won’t be a cakewalk, and I don’t think they win it against Cincinnati if Ben is not playing.”"

Mason Rudolph played in 10 games starting eight and Devlin Hodges played in eight starting six. Pittsburgh finished 30th in total offense, 31st in passing and 29th in rushing last season without Roethlisberger for the last 14 games. The Steelers had a 76.1 passer rating as a team in 2019.

With Roethlisberger returning this season following an elbow injury is fifth in scoring averaing 29.4 PPG. Overall the offense has improved only slightly. Pittsburgh is 25th in total offense, 22nd in passing and 19th in rushing. On NFL live, Spears colleague Mina Kimes stated Rudolph and Hodges are below average QBs.

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Pittsburgh was 5-3 with Rudolph starting and 3-3 with Hodges. Rudolph finished with an 82.0 passer rating and 36.8 QBR with 13 TD passes and nine interceptions. Hodges had a 71.4, 30.6 with five TDs and eight intereptions. If Roethlisberger doesn’t play Sunday Cincinnati should end their 10 game losing streak to Pittsburgh.