The Pittsburgh Steelers have ranked toward the bottom of the league in secondary production this season. The anticipation that Minkah Fitzpatrick could be out Sunday evening paves the way for the Bengals' main slot guy Tyler Boyd to be the weekly breakout candidate for the Cincinnati Bengals.
However, Fitzpatrick wants to play and Mike Tomlin is optimistic just two weeks removed from an appendectomy. Regardless, with or without Fitzpatrick, Tyler Boyd remains a breakout candidate.
The last time the Bengals and Steelers played was Week 1, and Pittsburgh won because of their elite and disruptive defensive play. Specifically, Fitzpatrick, who had a pick-six and a blocked extra point.
If Ja'Marr Chase is out, which is expected, the focus will be on Tee Higgins, who will more than likely draw a double team. That will open up many more one-on-one opportunities for Boyd to get space and exceed in his spots against the opposing cornerback or safety that is in coverage. Steelers allow the second-most yards in the league to opposing slot receivers.
Tyler Boyd is going to explode onto the scene vs Steelers
Boyd will also have something personal to play for in his yearly return to Pittsburgh, where he went to college and has many family ties in the area. With a crowd full of family and friends, this one will mean a little more to a guy like Tyler Boyd, who is often overlooked outside of the Cincinnati fanbase due to the other high-powered talent the Bengals offense presents.
Tyler Boyd is having easily one of his better seasons from a statistical and playmaking standpoint in recent memory. Boyd had hauled in 37 receptions for 537 receiving yards and four touchdowns with an average of 14.5 per reception.
If Boyd can surpass 1,000 yards, it will be the first time since 2019. Chase's absence put a toll on the possibility that the Bengals could have three wideouts that get over 1,000 yards in the same season. However, it still isn't out of question with the expectation that Chase returns in Week 12 against the Titans per ESPN's Jeremy Fowler.
With a Pittsburgh secondary that has struggled and the hope for revenge by Joe Burrow and company after a poor Week 1 performance, be sure to keep a close eye on Tyler Boyd in this matchup as he is set to have a breakout game in a highly anticpated AFC North rivalry with a lot at stake for both teams.