Steelers have home field advantage and will win the turnover battle
There’s no doubt that this will be a tough game for each team because, in many ways, the Steelers and 49ers are very similar. Both have second-year quarterbacks. Both have stud edge rushers. Both have fantastic weapons at the offensive skill positions. I could list more here, but you get the idea.
So when matchups like this occur, it usually comes down to special teams, turnovers, and home-field advantage. I’ve already discussed the Steelers’ special teams advantage, so let’s explore the Steelers’ home-field advantage.
With Pittsburgh opening at home for the first time since 2014, Acrisure Stadium will be rocking. The Steelers have posted a 35-8-2 record (.800) against NFC teams at home since 2001, the best mark in the AFC during that time. Since 2007, Mike Tomlin’s 25 regular-season home wins over NFC foes are the most in the AFC.
San Francisco is opening on the road for the third season in a row, and playing a 1:00 p.m. Eastern game is never easy for a team traveling cross-country. The 49ers took a 41-33 win at Detroit in 2021 before suffering a 19-10 loss at Chicago last season. The game against the Bears was the first regular-season start for quarterback Trey Lance and was played in a torrential downpour much of the time.
Weather could also be a factor on Sunday in Pittsburgh, with a 65 percent chance of rain according to The Weather Channel. If rain does occur, it will make protecting the football even more important for both teams.
The Steelers and 49ers’ defenses tied for the league lead with 20 interceptions last season. But I expect the Steelers’ pressure, coupled with an improved secondary and a loud crowd, to help the home team win the turnover battle and thus be the difference in the game.