Pittsburgh Steelers (7-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (8-3-1), 1pm Eastern
TV: CBS Ian Eagle, Dan Fouts
Radio: WDVE, Steelers Nation Radio Bill Hillgrove, Tunch Ilkin and Craig Wolfley
Line: Steelers +3.5
AFC North Standings: Bengals 8-3-1, Browns 7-5, Ravens 7-5, Steelers 7-5
The Steelers travel to Cincinnati for the first of two games against the Bengals over the next four weeks. Pittsburgh is coming off a pretty embarrassing loss at home to New Orleans while the Bengals nipped the Buccaneers by a point to complete a three-game road winning streak.
Pittsburgh is 24-19 all-time in Cincinnati and usually has a very good turnout of Steelers’ fans.
Cincinnati Offensive Rankings: Total 18th, Rushing 9th, Passing 24th
Pittsburgh Offensive Rankings: Total 3rd, Rushing 11th, Passing 4th
Cincinnati Defensive Rankings: Total 21st, Rushing 25th, Passing 14th
Pittsburgh Defensive Rankings: Total 12th, Rushing 11th, Passing 16th
Here’s what we need to see in order for the Steelers to win on Sunday.
1. Attack, Attack, Attack. Mike Tomlin and Todd Haley need to realize they have a great QB, a great RB and a great WR and they need to utilize these weapons sooner rather than later. By that, I mean they need to stop worrying about time of possession and keeping Dick LeBeau’s defense off of the field.
The D is giving up 25 points over the last four games and the offense is scoring 28. It’s high time they stop acting like they are winning defensive battles. Open the offense up by keeping Matt Spaeth and Will Johnson on the sideline and let the offense spread the Bengals out and attack. Put the pressure on Andy Dalton to keep up in a track meet because my money isn’t on him.
2. Blitz to Stop to the Run. Most of us are used to seeing Dick LeBeau’s defense blitz to get pressure on the quarterback in the passing game but now I believe LeBeau has to bring more bodies in an effort to slow down the Bengals’ running game. Between them, rookie Jeremy Hill and second-year back Giovani Bernard have rushed for over 1,100 yards and 11 touchdowns.
Lebeau has to consider blitzing in order to give the thinning defensive line help against the run. It’s not in his nature to do so because he typically plays it safe but that may no longer be an option. My feeling is this; if you’re going to get beat then get beat while giving everything you’ve got.
3. Fortify the Middle. Brought up in much of the talk this week about Ben Roethlisberger’s passing hand has been the discussion about his inability to step up in the pocket. The reason for that is simple; teams are pressuring Roethlisberger directly through ‘A’ gaps and they’re finding success.
The Titans sacked Big Ben five times and the Saints’ pressure caused him to bang up his hand and kept him from stepping up. When that happens you get throws that sail. I’d suggest Haley get Roethlisberger out of the pocket on roll-outs but I’d be wasting my breath. Therefore, Maurkice Pouncey, Ramon Foster and David DeCastro must do better job of keeping defenders at bay in the middle.
Marc Uhlmann writes for and co-owns www.steelcityblitz.com. Follow him on Twitter @SteelDad and the website @SCBlitz. Check us out on Facebook at facebook.com/steelcityblitz and on Fancred.com. You can hear him weekly during the season on game day on the Trib-Live Radio Steelers Pre-Game
photo courtesy wlwt.com