With seven games remaining the Pittsburgh Steelers head to Cincinnati for a huge divisional contest with the Bengals. Here’s everything you need to know heading into this game.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers (5-4-1) at Cincinnati Bengals (6-4)
Where: Paul Brown Stadium Cincinnati, Ohio
When: 1pm ET Sunday November 28th, 2021
Weather: 39 degrees with clear skies and winds to 12mph
Line: Steelers +4 O/U 45
Last Week: Cincinnati defeated the Las Vegas Raiders 32-12 while the Steelers racked up 37 points in defeat losing to the Chargers in LA 41-37.
TV: CBS Kevin Harlan (play-by-play), Trent Green (analysis), Melanie Collins (sideline)
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check 506sports.com for coverage in your area.
Radio: Steelers Nation Radio/WDVE Bill Hillgrove, Craig Wolfley with Missi Matthews and Max Starks on the sidelines. (RIP Tunch Ilkin)
Head Official: Bill Vinovich. A certified public account by day, Vinovich is in his 13th season as a head official. This is his first Steelers’ assignment since the 2019 season finale in Baltimore. A 28-10 loss that sank the Steelers’ playoff hopes.
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: CB Joe Haden (Foot) – Questionable, OL J.C. Hassenauer (Pectoral) – Out, TE Eric Ebron (Knee) – Out CIN: WR Auden Tate (Thigh) – Doubtful
Injury Notes: If Haden can’t go that’s a serious blow to what the Steelers want to do defensively… Keep an on Ben Roethlisberger who continues to battle hip and shoulder injuries. UPDATE: Joe Haden has been downgraded to “out” for this week.
2021 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 23rd CIN 14th Passing Offense: PIT 14th CIN 12th Rushing Offense: PIT 27th CIN 22nd
Total Defense: PIT 23rd CIN 15th Passing Defense: PIT 15th CIN 26th Rushing Defense: PIT 26th CIN 5th
AFC North Rankings: Baltimore 7-3, Cincinnati 6-4, Pittsburgh 5-4-1, Cleveland 6-5
This Week in the AFC North: Cleveland at Baltimore Sun 820PM ET
What You Need to Know: Pittsburgh is 64-35-4 all-time against quarterbacks drafted number one overall…They are just 1-4-1 in their last six such contests however… Mike Tomlin is 24-13-1 against former QBs drafted number one overall… Tomlin is 22-7 all-time against Cincinnati… Big Ben is 26-5-1 all-time (including playoffs) when playing in Ohio… Roethlisberger is 11 TD throws behind Dan Marino for fifth all-time… Najee Harris has the most combined yards by a Steelers rookie (1,022) after 10 games in franchise history.
Cincinnati Bengals Names to Know: QB Joe Burrow, RB Joe Mixon, WR Tee Higgins, WR Ja’Marr Chase, LB Logan Wilson, S Jessie Bates III, EDGE Trey Hendrickson
What’s at Stake: The stakes could not be higher for both teams as all four team face each other in AFC North Divisional play. Both the Bengals and Steelers have to keep pace with the Ravens if they want to have any shot at a potential division title.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead 67-37 and lead in Cincinnati 32-20
Last Meeting: September 2021 in Pittsburgh. Bengals 24 Steelers 10
Check out the latest Steel City Blitz Steelers Podcast for more on this game.
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
1. Nix Mixon. The Steelers’ run defense has been very up and down in recent weeks and Joe Mixon had some big carries against them in their first matchup. For the Steelers to have any chance in this one they have to make the Bengals as one dimensional as possible. You can accomplish this by limiting Mixon’s yards and making contact with him before he can get going. Slow him down in order to ‘release the hounds’ on Joe Burrow. Give Mixon room to run and then play-action opens up and that will be a tall task for sure.
2. Simplify the Offense. After scoring 37 points last week you’d think things would be a lot smoother in regards to this offense but that’s far from the case. Matt Canada hasn’t had a good last few weeks and now we are left to wonder just how much input Mike Tomlin has been having on the offensive play-calling. First and foremost, Pittsburgh has to establish balance. Not easy with this offensive line I know but they can’t go away from the run game and they can’t rely on Big Ben’s arm either. The creativity has been lacking in recent weeks and Canada better find it quickly.
3. Find a LB Combination. It’s no secret that Devin Bush is struggling. Joe Schobert and Robert Spillane aren’t exactly setting the world on fire either. But Keith Butler, whose comments this week echoed the fan base’s frustration with Bush, has to find combinations that work. Who is playing the best on third downs? Who is getting the job down on first down? And so on. This is asking for a lot I know, but something has to give here in order for this defense to pick things up from what they are currently doing.
Prediction: With the Bengals this week and the Ravens next week these games are of vital importance for the Black and Gold. In the week three matchup, T.J. Watt did not play and Joe Burrow had plenty of time to make his reads and his throws. With Watt good to go for Sunday, will is presence be enough? But the other question is whether or not the offense has truly turned a corner with their recent uptick a week ago. I fear the Bengals’ defense is better than I think it is and I’m just not convinced the Steelers have corrected the problems that plague on both sides of the ball.
Bengals 23 Steelers 20
Season Prediction Record: 6-4