The Steelers won their biggest game of the season last Sunday night with a 13-10 win in Baltimore over the Ravens. Now they come home for three in a row, starting with the all but dead Cincy Bungles, who have lost 9 in a row after starting the year 2-1. The Bengals can’t be overlooked though, as they played the Saints tough a week ago, falling in the final minute after a dumb 4th down penalty. With that, here are this weeks keys and predictions for the Sunday battle with the Bengals.
1. Make the Bengals One-Dimensional – Cedric Benson in both games last season had a high per carry average, but the Steelers did a good job in the first game, holding him to 54 yards on 18 carries, 3 yards per carry. His longest carry was 8 yards. If the Steelers can do that again, it gives them more of a shot to get to Carson Palmer and hopefully will force some mistakes and easy turnovers.
2. Stay Grounded – There’s no doubt this could be a game that could be overlooked with the Jets coming in next week and the Bengals 2-10, but make no mistake about it, the Bengals cannot be disregarded. They played the Saints to a four-point loss and six-point losses each to the Colts, Steelers and 7-points to Atlanta. Last time they played the Steelers dominated the first three quarters, only to have to hold on in the end. Let’s hope they play it like the Raiders game, putting it away by the third quarter.
3. Help Out Ben – It may seem harmless and funny, but the Steelers starting QB has a broken nose, and the run game needs to give him a lift to not put the entire offense on his shoulders for this one. Roethlisberger is 9-4 as a starter against the Bengals, throwing for 163 yards and one touchdown in the MNF victory November 8th. He is just 3-3 at home against Cincinnati, including last season’s 18-12 loss. Let’s see Rashard Mendenhall have a big day, giving Ben a chance to not have to risk further injury with both his foot and face.
Prediction – Just like in the first game, the Steelers have to impose their will on the Bengals, not giving them thoughts of coming to Heinz and scoring the upset. They need to run the ball, pressure Palmer, and protect the ball in what could be some bad weather. There’s no doubt that if the Bengals are in the game late, it will be considered a letdown. I can’t see Mike Tomlin allowing this team to rest after last weeks huge win. Pittsburgh 31 Cincinnati 14