This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Bengals and Steelers in their week 17 match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Cincinnati Bengals (6-9) at Pittsburgh Steelers (8-6-1)
Where: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA
When: 425pm Eastern, Sunday December 30th, 2018
Weather: 41 and partly cloudy
Line: Steelers -14.5
Last Week: The Bengals rally at Cleveland fell short losing 26-18 while the Steelers surrendered another late lead and lost 31-28 in New Orleans.
TV: Kevin Harlan, Rich Gannon and Steve Tasker on the sidelines.
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check out 506sports.com to see if the game is on in your area!
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Head Official: Carl Cheffers
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: S Sean Davis (Quadriceps) – Questionable
RB James Conner (Ankle) -Questionable, WR Antonio Brown (Coach’s Decision/Knee) – Questionable
LB Vince Williams (Toe) – Doubtful CIN: WR Tyler Boyd (Knee) – Out (IR), LB Vontaze Burfict (Concussion) – Out
LB Jordan Evans (Ankle) – Out (IR), CB Dre Kirkpatrick (Shoulder) – Out (IR), CB Tony McRae (Hamstring) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 3rd, CIN 25th Passing Offense: PIT 2nd, CIN 23rd Rushing Offense: PIT 31st, CIN 22nd
Total Defense: PIT 9th, CIN 32nd Passing Defense: PIT 16th, CIN 30th Rushing Defense: PIT 6th, CIN 29th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 9-6, Pittsburgh 8-6-1, Cleveland 7-7-1, Cincinnati 6-9
This Week: Cleveland at Baltimore 425pm Eastern
What You Need to Know: Since 2010, the Steelers are 15-3 against the Bengals… Pittsburgh has won six straight in the series… Pittsburgh is just 4-3 at home in 2018… The Steelers are 5-0-1 when a running back goes over the century mark… Ben Roethlisberger is 158 yards shy of 5,000 passing yards this season… T.J. Watt now has 19 sacks in his first two seasons.
What’s at Stake: For the Bengals? Absolutely nothing more than perhaps some pride. The Steelers need a win and also need the Browns to defeat the Ravens. If that happens they win the AFC North. Pittsburgh can earn a wild-card berth with a win and a tie between Tennessee and Indianapolis.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead All-Time 61-35 and are 32-16 all-time in Pittsburgh.
Series Highs: PASSING: Steelers Ben Roethlisberger 386 yards 12/4/2005, Bengals Jon Kitna 411 yards 12/30/2001… RUSHING: Steelers Le’Veon Bell 185 yards 12/7/2014, Bengals James Brooks 133 yards 9/30/1985… RECEIVING: Steelers Lynn Swann 192 yards 12/2/1979, Bengals A.J. Green 224 yards 12/7/2014
Last Meeting: October 24th, 2018 in Cincinnati. Steelers 28 Bengals 21
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Bury What’s Already Dead. The Bengals’ team the Steelers will face Sunday is a shell of what they saw back in October in Cincinnati. No Andy Dalton, A.J. Green, Tyler Boyd, Vontaze Burfict or Dre Kirkpatrick. This team is mostly concerned right now with getting their offseason vacations underway. That changes however if the Steelers turn the ball over or settle for field goals rather than score touchdowns. Therefore the Steelers need to put this team away sooner rather than later. Be aggressive but not risky. Punish them right off the bat and make them start seeing the beaches and golf courses before the first quarter even ends.
Stop Joe Mixon. The Bengals’ only real weapon recently has been Mixon. He’s a quality runner who can lower a shoulder and turn on his jets equally well. He’s also a solid receiver out of the backfield and there’s no doubt the Bengals paid special attention to how the Saints used Alvin Kamara last week. Keith Butler needs to stress the importance of tackling and taking better angles in an effort to slow Mixon down. Do that and the Bengals lose a lot of their bite offensively.
Don’t Watch the Scoreboard for Awhile Anyway. It’s very easy to say if you’re Mike Tomlin that you won’t be paying any attention to the score of the game in Baltimore. If the Steelers get out to a commanding lead however in the second half and the Browns or Ravens have done the same then it might be time to sit some guys. If the Browns are winning big you sit guys to prepare them for next week and if the Ravens are winning big you sit some guys to make sure they aren’t injured in what would become a meaningless game.
Predictions: This is spot where I predict the Steelers will play down to the competition of their opponent and will be lucky to escape with a win. But I’m not going to despite what recent history has told me. Even with the deflating loss in New Orleans hanging over them I believe the Steelers will win going away in this one and it has more to do with the Bengals putting a junior varsity team on the field than anything. Steelers 31 Bengals 16
Bonus Prediction: Ravens 20 Browns 19
Season Prediction Record: 9-6