The Pittsburgh Steelers find themselves in the precarious position of facing a “must win” situation in week 7 when they visit the Cincinnati Bengals on Sunday night. The problem is that the Bengals feel similarly because of back-to-back losses at home versus the Dolphins, followed by a bad loss at Cleveland against the previously winless Browns. Head coach Marvin Lewis intimated that the Bengals needed to play nastier. So, NBC will be pleased to feature two desperate teams fighting to stake a claim as challenger to the AFC North throne that is currently inhabited by the suddenly ailing Baltimore Ravens.
Ten Fearless Predictions
1. Both defenses will continue to be suspect. Pittsburgh has shown the propensity for giving up long scoring drives late in games. And, Cincinnati gave up 34 points to the Browns last week. It will be an aerial assault for both offenses.
2. A.J. Green will score at least one touchdown. Ike Taylor will likely be matched up against the superstar young wide out, but do not be surprised to see over-the-top safety coverage in an attempt to slow the Bengals’ best offensive weapon. I still expect Green to find a way to torch the Pittsburgh secondary.
3. Pittsburgh’s offensive line will have its difficulties opening holes for the likes of Jonathan Dwyer, Baron Batch, and Chris Rainey. Run blocking has been a deficiency throughout the season.
4. The Steelers defense will get a boost to their pass rush with the return of LaMarr Woodley. The bookend pass rushers of James Harrison and Woodley will force Andy Dalton into making quicker decisions and mistakes.
5. A special teams gaffe will give Pittsburgh an advantage in the return game. I have this sneaky suspicion that Antonio Brown or Chris Rainey breaks loose in this game.
6. Jonathan Dwyer will use the chip on his shoulder to turn in a decent ground game for Pittsburgh – maybe something along the lines of 75 yards and a rushing TD. Dwyer may be bottled up for the majority of the day, but he will bust loose for a big run or two.
7. Lawrence Timmons makes a game-changing play. Timmons has been one of the few bright spots on defense for the Black and Gold in 2012.
8. Doug Legursky and Willie Colon will have difficulty in protecting Big Ben against Geno Atkins. Atkins has six sacks on the season, and will likely increase that total on Sunday.
9. BenJarvus Green-Ellis will not find as much traction in the running game as Chris Johnson did last week against the front seven of the Steelers. Green-Ellis is more of a plodder, and won’t have a consistent performance against Pittsburgh.
10. Pittsburgh 27, Cincinnati 21. In recent history, the Steelers / Bengals contests in Cincinnati have always come down to the final possession. I expect no different in this game.
About the Author
Written by Rob Stroup
I grew up in western Pennsylvania, so I have followed the Pittsburgh sports teams (Steelers, Penguins, Pirates) since the womb. It has become a tradition to make the yearly trek to a Steelers and Penguins game each year despite the distance. I hope to make writing a profession because I thoroughly enjoy attempting to paint a picture with words.