This is the Steel City Blitz Three-Point Stance. Your quick-hitting reference guide to everything you need to know about the Steelers and Bengals in their week six match-up. It is sponsored by Nail the Number: The Fight Against Cancer.
What: Pittsburgh Steelers 2-2-1 at Cincinnati Bengals 4-1
Where: Heinz Field West, I Mean…. Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH
When: 1pm Eastern, Sunday October 14th, 2018
Weather: 61 degrees and cloudy, 20% chance of rain
Line: Bengals -2.5
Last Week: The Bengals erased a 1-0 second half deficit to beat Miami 27-17. The Steelers rode big days from Antonio Brown, James Conner and T.J. Watt to beat the Falcons 41-17.
TV: CBS Ian Eagle and Dan Fouts
TV Coverage in Your Area: Check out the506.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: Clete Blakeman
Key Injuries/Game Status (courtesy steelers.com) PIT: S Morgan Burnett (Groin) – Out, LB L.J. Fort (Ankle) – Doubtful
WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Ankle) – Out CIN: CB William Jackson (Knee) – Questionable, OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Wrist) – Questionable, WR John Ross (Groin) – Questionable, HB Giovani Bernard (Knee) – Out, TE Tyler Kroft (Foot) – Out
C Billy Price (Foot) – Out
2018 NFL Ranks:
Total Offense: PIT 7th, CIN 16th Passing Offense: PIT 3rd, CIN 15th Rushing Offense: PIT 27th, CIN 22nd
Total Defense: PIT 30th, CIN 26th Passing Defense: PIT 30th, CIN 22nd Rushing Defense: PIT 15th, CIN 23rd
AFC North Rankings: Cincinnati 4-1, Baltimore 3-2, Cleveland 2-2-1, Pittsburgh 2-2-1
This Week: San Diego at Cleveland 1pm, Baltimore at Tennessee 425pm
What You Need to Know: Since 2010, the Steelers are 14-3 against the Bengals and have won eight of the last nine games in Paul Brown Stadium… Pittsburgh has won five straight in the series… Mike Tomlin is 10-2 all-time in Cincinnati… Ben Roethlisberger enters with a lifetime record of 12-2 in Cincy… Cam Heyward needs half a sack to become just the third defensive lineman in Steelers’ history to reach forty (sacks became official in 1982).
What’s at Stake: The Steelers begin their trio of consecutive contests against their division counter-parts with a trip to the AFC North leading Bengals. Considering the Steelers second half schedule, going 2-1 or 3-0 in the next three games is almost mandatory. A loss would drop them to 0-2-1 in the division and when the Steelers don’t do well in the AFC North they don’t typically make the playoffs. While not a must-win game it’s as close as it can get.
All-Time Series: Steelers lead All-Time 60-35 and are 28-19 in Cincinnati.
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: December 4th, 2017 in Cincinnati, Steelers 23 Bengals 20
Three Things We Need to See for a Steelers’ Victory:
Own the Line of Scrimmage. The defensive front the Steelers will see on Sunday is a good one. Geno Atkins is tied for the league lead with six sacks and he’s an interior lineman who doesn’t seem to age. Carlos Dunlap and Michael Johnson are both tall and extremely long making throws difficult for Roethlisberger. David DeCastro and company must neutralize Atkins and part of the way you do that is by running the football. Teams have had some success doing that and the Steelers must follow up what they did last week. If Atkins and the rest of that front dictate play it will be a long day for the Steelers’ offense. Defensively, Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt must collapse the pocket around Andy Dalton. He has not traditionally played well against the Steelers and much of that has to do with interior pressure.
Don’t Take the Bait. The Steelers return to Cincinnati for the first time since their teammate Ryan Shazier was carted off the field. There will be emotions running high because of it but Vontaze Burfict will also be looking for some modicum of revenge too. It was in the same game last year that JuJu Smith-Schuster sent Burfict to the locker room with a crushing block. While Pacman Jones is no longer there, other guys will no doubt take up in his absence and look to get into the heads of the Steelers. The Black and Gold must show restraint. They can’t afford to give up penalty yards to an offense that’s playing pretty well.
Secondary Receivers Will Be the Difference. Antonio Brown and A.J. Green will be the focal points of the opposing defenses. That means for the Bengals, Tyler Boyd becomes huge and so far in 2018 he’s produced. I expect the Steelers to have Joe Haden shadow Green as he did last week with Julio Jones so that means Artie Burns, Coty Sensabaugh and Mike Hilton have to take care of business on their ends. Boyd has been really good on third down and is more than willing to go over the middle. For the Steelers, JuJu Smith-Schuster is already no stranger to being the number one option when AB is double-teamed. But Vance McDonald and James Washington also need to be prepared to make plays that move the sticks. Whichever defense can do a better job of limiting these guys will take a big step forward in terms of winning.
Predictions: I sure was wrong last week. The defense came to play and held a potent Falcons offense to just 17 points. About half of what they had been averaging. This week brings a familiar foe and very friendly confines. Emotions will run high with so much going on but until the Bengals can convince me otherwise, I’ll take the Black and Gold. Steelers 27 Bengals 20
Season Prediction Record: 2-3