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Friday, December 05, 2014

Who I like, Cincinnati version

This is an important game in the grand scheme of things in the AFC North.

The winner, in fact, will have the inside track on winning the division, particularly if it's Cincinnati, which would move to 9-3-1 with a victory and pair of wins in hand against Baltimore.

For the Steelers, if they hope to make a push at the division title, they must win their final four games. Doing so would guarantee two losses for the Bengals, meaning Cincinnati could finish no better than 10-5-1.

But which Steelers team will show up? The one that defeated Houston, Indianapolis and Baltimore a month ago, or the one that has struggled in its past three games, going 1-2 against the Jets, Titans and Saints?

There has been a lot made recently of the heavy workload Le'Veon Bell has had in the past two games, when he has touched the ball 64 times.

If the Steelers are going to beat the Bengals, Bell is going to need another 30-touch game.

The Bengals have been very good against the pass this season, allowing an NFL-low 11 touchdown passes.

But Cincinnati gives up 125 yards per game on the ground and has allowed 13 rushing touchdowns.

For the Steelers to win, Bell has to have another strong game. He's gone over 200 total yards in each of the past two games and can become the first running back since Walter Payton in 1977 to top 200 total yards in three consecutive games. That's heady company.

Meanwhile, the Steelers have to slow Cincinnati's two-headed rushing attack of Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill. If they can do that and force Andy Dalton, who has thrown 13 touchdown passes and 13 interceptions, into some mistakes, they'll have a chance to win.

If not, they're in for a long game.

Cincinnati is a 3-point favorite in this game, showing that Las Vegas doesn't really trust the Bengals, either.

But who knows with this Pittsburgh team?

I like the Bengals, 27-23, but could see the Steelers winning this game as well.

And even if the Steelers do lose, they won't be out of the playoff chase in the AFC.

One, and possibly two, AFC teams will be in as wildcards at 10-6. There's still a lot of football left to be played.


Steve-O said...

Both teams are vulnerable to the run. I give the edge to the Bengals at home but Andy Dalton is the wildcard. If he falters the Steelers have a chance.

mv7267 said...

If the Bengals are smart, they run the ball right down Tomlin & LeBeau's throats. Prove that The Steeler defense can stop it, and tackle. I just don't see that happening. Heyward, Timmons & Harrison are the only 3 players that need blocked.

The Steeler O needs to put 40+ on the board to win. I have serious doubts on that also. 9-7 is better than 8-8 right?

BlackNGold said...

Well the Bengals at least aren't a sub .500 team so maybe they beat them

marc said...

the steelers are 3-3 on the road average 16 points of offense per game.

the bengals are 4-1-1 at home averaging 26 points per game. take away the worst game in QB history against the browns (which had a lot to do with the wind), and the bengals are dominating at home.

I just don't see the steelers coming away with a win here. certainly it's not impossible, but their play so far this season doesn't suggest they can win a big game on the road.

Qwikdoc said...

The Steelers offense can outscore the Bengals but are wildly inconsistent and the Steelers defense is just not very good this year so it isn't likely that they beat a good Bengals team.

Anonymous said...

This is a big game for Ben.He needs to start playing like a franchise QB. The defense stinks.This team need him more than ever.He's especially been poor on the road.
In the past Ike has done a good job on Green but that was a younger Ike. With Tuitt and Jones getting playing time look for Cincy to run some trick plays such as reverses to test them.

Anonymous said...

This is the big one. The Ravens are playing at Miami sans Ngata. The Browns host the Colts. Good possibility that both division rivals lose. So the Steelers win this, they’re back in the thick of it. Based on the inconsistency of the Steelers, I’ll take the Bengals 28-16.

Dale Lolley said...

Actually, they average 18.3 points per game on the road, but who's counting.

I would also disagree with the comment that only Heyward, Timmons and Harrison need to be blocked. If you leave eight guys unblocked, you're not going to be very successful. The trouble for the Steelers has been some of those guys staying blocked.

DD said...

I feel exactly the same way about this game as I did before they played the Colts. Very little chance they can win this game. I was wrong then, and hope to be wrong now. The problem really comes down to the fact that this team has zero chance in games against even avg QB's if Ben isn't spectacular. That simply is not ok. Dalton will have his best game of the year without doubt as this is one of the worst defenses I have ever seen. And I truly mean that. If Ben stays upright, we can hopefully go blow for blow. But I give that a 10% chance. Hope I am wrong.

marc said...

I'm not counting defensive scores. the offense has averaged 16 points per game on the road.

James said...

Since 2010 the Steelers are 3-1 against the Bengals in Cincy! I only include since 2010 b/c that is when they became competitive again. Andy Dalton is 2-4 against the Steelers! The Steelers will regain their form this week and win 34-24. Any chance Cam Thomas plays less than Tuitt & McCullers?

ibygeorge said...

I will be surprised if the Steelers show up. Roethlisberger will try his best but maybe too much and self destruct. The defense at times gets run over and who's going to cover Green.

Anonymous said...

So it's basically a game of who establishes the run first. Bengals are more likely to do that even if Bell is the superior RB talent

yeah, hopefully BadDalton shows up

Dale Lolley said...

The Steelers will definitely "show up." To suggest otherwise is just silly.

That would suggest that these guys don't care about their profession, which is simply not true.

Sometimes, you're just not good enough. It's tough to win consistently on the road in the NFL. It just is.

Anonymous said...


Is it true that Harrison is out for the Bengals game? If so, who replaces him, Moats? Is Jones back?

Dale Lolley said...

Harrison is doubtful. Didn't practice all week. Moats would likely start. I expect them to activate Jones Saturday

adamg said...

Dale, there's whispering about Shazier not playing through injuries and that the Steelers aren't happy about it. True?

mv7267 said...

"I would also disagree with the comment that only Heyward, Timmons and Harrison need to be blocked. If you leave eight guys unblocked, you're not going to be very successful. The trouble for the Steelers has been some of those guys staying blocked"

Dale, I get what you mean but you missed what I mean. Until those other 8, 9 now since JH is out, prove they can make the play, as an opposing OC I'd like my chances.

This could be a big game for Worilds. He needs to take over and get all on Dalton. Force him to get rid of the ball, that's when he makes mistakes. And his mistakes tend to multiply.

Anonymous said...

This is an important game in the grand scheme of things in the AFC North.

Both true and frustrating, cuz any and all of the TB, Jets, Saints games were important in the grand scheme of things. And that's entirely why this late Bengals game is now critical in the grand scheme of things.

If they blow a playoff spot this year, they should be looking back at those games rather than this now all important Bengals tilt.

Should be the other way around with the Bengals feeling like they have to sweep the Steelers to have a chance.

Anonymous said...

I hate to be such a downer but this team isn't going to do anything in the playoffs anyways. There are too many flaws.

-Ben has been inconsistent all year. I wonder if he really prepares for every game in the same way. Maybe Sanders was right to call out Ben's leadership.

-The young defensive players are a total dissappointment.

- Hines Ward is right, there is a huge dropoff at WR after Brown. Wheaton is not the player we hoped he would be.

Anonymous Brian said...

They could win if Ben is lights-out, they get some turnovers, or Dalton stinks it up.

Although I feel the same way someone else did who mentioned that's how they felt before the Colts game.

Great that McLendon's probably back but then with Harrison out, maybe that is a wash against the run anyway. Since 92's only got a few games left, I wouldn't be surprised if he gets some Dr. Feelgood before the game and plays, or at least tries to.

Bengals - 34 Steelers - 12

Dale Lolley said...

They were unhappy with how long it took Shazier to come back from the knee injury