Two teams trending in opposite directions will square off in a historic rivalry match, as the 0-2 Pittsburgh Steelers will head west, to take on the 2-0 San Francisco 49ers.
It wasn’t supposed to be this way for Pittsburgh, but after losing Ben Roethlisberger at quarterback for an extended period of time, it’s now got to be the Mason Rudolph show to run the offense from here on out. Though he looked solid in relief back in Week 2, the 49ers will provide a stiff road test.
For the Niners, much panic was given back in the pre-season when their quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo looked brutal – but oh, how times have changed. The Niners’ offense is moving the ball at will right now, and San Francisco definitely has a shot at topping a competitive NFC West division by season’s end.
This should be a fascinating game to watch, with both teams surrounded with intrigue. How will Mason Rudolph fare in his first start of the season? Can the 49ers’ offense keep up this pace? Read on below to find out the answers to these vital questions! It’s the Niners and Steelers in a matchup that is always special. Keep reading to see our winning prediction for this rivalry showdown.
Steelers vs. 49ers Betting Odds:
Pittsburgh Steelers +6.5 (-110)
@ San Francisco 49ers -6.5 (-110)
Over 44 (-110)
Under 44 (-110)
Steelers vs. 49ers Pick:
The one big benefit Mason Rudolph will see right away, is just how good the Steelers’ are at blocking for him. It’s likely the best unit at protecting their quarterback, and that time and space should go a long way to ensuring Rudolph is comfortable and settled in the pocket.
Last week Rudolph looked great against Seattle, but the Niners might provide more resistance this week. That said, San Francisco hasn’t faced a unit that protects its quarterback as well as Pittsburgh does – so it will be interesting to see who wins this key battle. If Rudolph gets time, he should be able to hit his key targets downfield. Vance McDonald and JuJu Smith-Schuster are both downfield threats, as is James Washington – the speedy wideout Rudolph knows from their time together at Oklahoma St. This Steelers attack still is loaded with weapons, and expect Rudolph to utilize that trio frequently on Sunday.
The Steelers clearly aren’t just conceding the season now that Big Ben is out for it. They went out this week and added talented safety Minkah Fitzpatrick to enhance a mediocre secondary. Pittsburgh also excels at getting pressure on opposing QB’s, and that should give Garoppolo another test to overcome here in Week 3. San Francisco’s offensive line is currently depleted without Joe Staley, and as a result look for Pittsburgh to be able to really get to Jimmy G, potentially forcing him into some hurried throws and mistakes.
The Steelers might be better with Rudolph, yet the market is obviously not reacting as such. Something was clearly bothering Big Ben Roethlisberger, as his ability to make basic throws was just off. Now with a healthy play-caller under centre, expect the offense to at least maintain its same rate, while an improved defense with Fitzpatrick should be able to stifle the Niners’ attack both through the air and on the ground. Add in the fact that the Niners are battling some injuries on defense as well, with Dee Ford and Nick Bosa listed as questionable – and I expect Mason Rudolph and the Steelers to keep this game tight on Sunday.