The National Football League continues their four days of football for this holiday weekend with a pair of contests today in Pittsburgh, where the Steelers host the Cincinnati Bengals, and Los Angeles, site of a matchup between the Chargers and Buffalo Bills. This is the second day of NFL play over the Christmas holiday, the action started on Thursday night with the Los Angeles Rams win over the New Orleans Saints. In addition to tomorrow's 10 NFL games, the league will stage three Monday contests on Christmas.
Both games played today will offer good football weather with only a slight chance of rain.
The early game in Pittsburgh, scheduled to start at 1:30 p.m. Pacific Time, features a pair of backup quarterbacks. The Starters of these two teams, Kenny Pickett of the Steelers and the Bengals Joe Burrow, are missing with injuries. Burrow is out for the season; Pickett has been sidelined for three weeks with an ankle injury suffered during the Steelers last victory, gained in Cincinnati four weeks ago.
Burrow had an injury plagued season, first playing through a calf injury during the first month of the regular season and then having his campaign ended with a wrist injury that required surgery. His replacement, Jack Browning, lost his first start, that defeat suffered against the Steelers in Cincinnati, but has strung together three impressive wins over the Jacksonville Jaguars, Indianapolis Colts and Minnesota Vikings.
While the Bengals were winning the prior three weeks, the Steelers were not. Behind awful quarterback play by Mitch Trubisky, the Steelers have gone down to defeat against the Arizona Cardinals, New England Patriots and Indianapolis Colts.
The Bengals may be better than all three of those teams, so what chance does Mike Tomlin and his men have for a win today? Not much with Trubisky behind center was a decision he made. So the Steelers head coach has gone back to the bench in Pittsburgh to designate Mason Rudolph today’s starter.
The problem with jumping on the Bengals today is they are in a horrible spot. They have overachieved when underrated and Browning behind center, but today, they jump to the role of a road favorite against a division opponent.
Not interested in that spot for the Bengals, or for the Steelers today with Rudolph, who this week is better known as a reindeer than a competent NFL quarterback.
In today’s late game, the Chargers are playing their first contest following the firing of Head Coach Brandon Staley. It took a long time, in my opinion too long, for the Chargers to pull the trigger on Staley’s dismissal. The Chargers have wasted talent on the field with his inept coaching both in preparation and game day decisions. Last week’s 63-21 thumping by a team with a losing record, the Las Vegas Raiders, was the final straw for Los Angeles ownership and they cleaned house.
The Chargers are the third team to fire their head coach during the 2023 season, and, like the Raiders, who dismissed Josh McDaniels in November, they sacked their general manager too. Las Vegas got a quick boost from interim head coach Antonio Pierce, who led them to a pair of victories in his first two games. On November 27th, the Carolina Panthers gave Frank Reich his walking papers and the Panthers have looked better in the three weeks Chris Tabor has led the team. That includes their second win of the season last Sunday against the Atlanta Falcons.
The Chargers, with interim head coach Giff Smith, would like to see a similar jump in performance. They are the most talented team that has fired their coach this year. But, the books and bettors aren't expecting a quick turnaround with the Chargers, they are double-digit home underdogs today.
Two games, no good plays from a wagering standpoint.