This is your ultimate quick-hitting guide to the second game this season between the Pittsburgh Steelers and Cincinnati Bengals. Our three-point stance is sponsored by ‘Nail the Number.’
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (9-2) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-6)
Where: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
When: 825pm Eastern on Monday, December 4th, 2017
TV Coverage: National TV audience.
Weather: 55 degrees and cloudy at kickoff.
Line: Steelers -6
Last Week: The Steelers defeated Green Bay 31-28 while the Bengals beat Cleveland 30-16.
TV: ESPN Sean McDonaugh, Jon Gruden and Lisa Salters on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Walt Anderson
Key Injuries: PIT: OUT: Vance McDonald (ankle), Joe Haden (fibula) DOUBTFUL: Mike Mitchell (ankle), QUEST: Antonio Brown (toe) CIN: OUT: Vincent Rey (ankle), Nick Vigil (hamstring), Shawn Williams (hamstring) QUEST: Michael Johnson (back) Game-Time Decisions will be updated when available.
2017 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 8th CIN 32nd Passing Offense: PIT 6th CIN 28th Rushing Offense: PIT 19th CIN 31st
Total Defense: PIT 4th , CIN 13th Passing Defense: PIT 3rd CIN 5th Rushing Defense: PIT 6th, CIN 27th
AFC North Rankings: Pittsburgh 9-2, Baltimore 6-5, Cincinnati 5-6, Cleveland 0-11
What You Need to Know: The Steelers are 8-0 this season when they score 20 or more points… When they outrush the opponent the Steelers are 8-0… Pittsburgh is 6-0 when they lead at halftime… The Steelers gave up a touchdown on an opponent’s opening drive for the first time in 27 games last week… Ben Roethlisberger had his 79th career game with a passer rating over 100 last week.
What’s at Stake: For the Bengals, it’s simple. If they don’t continue to win then they are for all intents and purposes out of the postseason. For the Steelers, they can move a step closer towards winning the AFC North and can keep their advantage atop the AFC.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 59-35 and lead in Cincinnati 27-19
Last Meeting: Oct. 22, 2017, in Pittsburgh… Pittsburgh 29, Cincinnati 14
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 386yards Dec. 4th, 2005, Bengals Jon Kitna 411yards Dec. 30th, 2001… RUSHING: Steelers Le’Veon Bell 185yards Dec. 7th, 2014, Bengals James Brooks 133yards Sep. 30th, 1985… RECEIVING: Steelers Lynn Swann 192yards Dec. 2nd, 1979, Bengals A.J. Green 224yards Dec. 7th, 2014
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Do What Works. The Bengals rank near the bottom against the rush and near the top against the pass. They are decimated by injuries at the linebacker position so this adds up to a big game for Le’Veon Bell. Todd Haley should not overthink this especially if Antonio Brown is hampered by his bad toe. Let the offensive line pin it’s ears back and let Bell churn out runs of four, five and six yards. This is not complicated. Run the ball and set up play-action pass.
Coverage Has to Start Up Front. Artie Burns isn’t playing well. Joe Haden is still out and Mike Mitchell is doubtful. That means Rob Golden is the last line of defense and that isn’t always a good thing. The Steelers have to get pressure early and often on Andy Dalton in order to hide the warts the Steelers’ secondary currently has. It can’t just be Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt though. Bud Dupree and T.J. Wattt have to get outside pressure on a consistent basis and they have to force Dalton to get rid of the ball sooner than he wants to.
Don’t Take the Bait. I say this every time we play the Bengals but if I don’t I fear what might happen. The Steelers have to be disciplined and not let Vontaze Burfict and Adam Jones get under their skin and you can bet they will try to do just that. Burfict has perfected the ability to taunt, kick or punch opposing players without getting caught and as they say, it’s always the guy who retaliates who gets caught by the officials. Pittsburgh has done better as the season has worn on at limiting their penalties. That trend has to continue.
Prediction: The Steelers’ secondary scares me right now but I think they’ll ride Le’Veon Bell, take time off the clock and pull out a 23-17 win.