The Pittsburgh Steelers travel to Cincinnati where the division-leading Bengals await. The first meeting saw Cincy score 10 fourth quarter points to escape 16-10. Can the Steelers turn the tables and stay in the AFC Wild-Card chase?
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (10-2)
Where: Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati, OH
When: Sunday December 13, 2015 1pm Eastern
Weather: 64 degrees and sunny at kickoff
Line: Bengals -3
TV: CBS Greg Gumbel, Trent Green and Jamie Erdahl on the sidelines.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley on the sidelines.
Rabble TV: SCB will be calling the game live and interacting with you the fans. Click here to join in!
Key Injuries: As of Saturday AM… PIT All players probable or better… CIN Adam Jones (foot), Jake Fisher (concussion) both are doubtful.
NFL Ranks : Bengals 8th total offense (9th Rushing/12th Passing)/9th total defense (9th Rushing/11th Passing)… Steelers 2nd total offense (7th Rushing/5th Passing)/21st total defense (5th Rushing/29th Passing)
What You Need to Know: The Steelers’ William Gay played in his 140th straight game which is the best among all active cornerbacks… Antonio Brown has at least one reception in 80 straight games… Ben Roethlisberger has thrown for 2,500 yards or more in 10 consecutive seasons.
AFC North: Baltimore (4-8) at Seattle (7-5), Cleveland (2-10) at San Francisco (4-8)
What’s at Stake: The Bengals can clinch the AFC North with a victory and move a step closer to securing a first-round bye. Right now they hold the one seed in the AFC. The Steelers need a victory to keep pace in the AFC Wild-Card Playoffs. They will be keeping an eye on the Jets, Bills, Chiefs and Texans this week.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead the all-time series 55-35 and they are 25-19 all-time in Cincinnati.
Series Highs Passing: CIN Jon Kitna 411 yards 2001, PIT Ben Roethlisberger 386 yards 2005 Rushing: CIN James Brooks 133 yards 1985, PIT Le’Veon Bell 185 yards 2014 Receiving: CIN A.J. Green 224 yards 2014, PIT Lynn Swann 192 yards 1979
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Win
Win the Turnover Battle. It might sound simple but the Steelers actually did everything they needed to do to win the first meeting. Ben Roethlisberger was returning from a four-game absence and despite a solid opening drive, he turned the ball over three times. They cannot afford to do that again and expect to win. If this game is as close as I think it will be, every possession is critical and giving the Bengals “freebies” is no way to win the game.
Cooler Heads Will Prevail. As Chris pointed out this week, this Steelers are seeking a measure of revenge for not only the earlier loss but also for the season-ending injury to Le’Veon Bell. The Steelers can be aggressive and even violent in their tackling and blocking but they must not resort to stupidity that leads to 15-yard personal foul penalties. Both teams were penalized 10 times for just over 90 yards earlier this season and while I expect the game to be just as chippy, the team that keeps its’ collective head the best will have an advantage.
BBs or Bullets? Andy Dalton’s play today will likely be the determining factor for the Bengals. When he’s able to have time in the pocket and make his progressions he’s known to fire bullets that tear through the heart of the defense. But when he’s pressured like he was in the first contest between these two teams he looks a little more like he’s firing BBs. We know the importance of the interior rush for the Steelers but the outside linebackers must match that on the edges. The less Andy Dalton can set his feet the more BBs we will see and that’s a good thing.