For the second time in 2008, two rivals from the AFC North will meet, this time on a Thursday stage as the 1-8-1 Cincinnati Bengals travel to Pittsburgh to take on the AFC North leading 7-3 Steelers. The Bengals are coming off a rare tie last Sunday at home against the Eagles, while the Steelers are coming off an 11-10 home win vs the Chargers that was a bit odd in its own right.
The Steelers beat the Bengals at Paul Brown Stadium by four TD’s back on October 19th, 38-10. The score does not tell the whole story through, as the game was tight at 17-10 Pittsburgh till the 8:17 mark of the 4th quarter when Ben Roethlisberger hit Nate Washington for a score, and then the flood gates opened for the Steelers to get the win and at the time move to 5-1.
The Bengals will have to put up with what still is the best D in the league, and one that held them to 212 yards and 4-for-16 on third downs the last time around. The Steelers defense is led by linebacker James Harrison and safety Troy Polamalu, who tend to make life tough on opposing offenses all day. Harrison had two sacks vs the Bengals in the first game this year.
Cincy will look to spread the field and get Ryan Fitzpatrick some time to try and find his wide outs. Fitzpatrick has also been using his feet a lot more to save time in the pocket and can even take off from time to time. In the first game he was just 21-for-35 for 164 yards, but was pressured all day and was sacked seven times for negative 47 yards. It would be nice for the Bengals to get a running game if they want to keep it close, but the Steelers allow just 68.9 yards on the ground per game.
Look for Roethlisberger and the offense to be able to take advantage of a Bengals D that allows 337.7 yards per game, and 131.1 on the ground. Willie Parker and Mewelde Moore will run the ball a lot against this team, and they should be able to wear down the Bengals front four enough to get in the end zone a couple of times.
In the end, the Steelers now that this is a game they should, and will win. They look ahead to the next three weeks after the Bengals and see the Patriots, Cowboys and Ravens waiting, and they can’t afford a letdown here. Look for the Steelers to try and put Cincy away early, and by the fourth quarter should have things well in hand in going to 8-3 on the year.