Week 16: Cincinnati Bengals At Pittsburgh Steelers
- QuarterbackThe Bengals came up with a much-needed win over the Eagles in Week 15, but Andy Dalton really didn’t help out that much even though Cincinnati built a 21-point margin of victory. Dalton fumbled twice and threw for 127 yards. He’s usually much more productive, but it won’t get any easier against the top-rated Steelers defense.The Steelers had a much better effort against the Cowboys, but still couldn’t come up with the win. Ben Roethlisberger deserves high marks for courage, but his interception in overtime was the key play in the game and gave the Cowboys the victory. Still, Roethlisberger threw for 339 yards and two touchdowns and he played with courage.
- OffenseThe Bengals have a hard-working and productive runner BenJarvus Green-Ellis who makes subpar opponents pay for poor tackling. While that is not likely going to be the case when the Bengals line up against the Steelers, Green-Ellis is coming off a 106-yard effort against the Eagles. Wide receiver A.J. Green is one of the best big-play receivers in the league.The Steelers could not get their running game going against the Cowboys, but they would like to get Jonathan Dwyer and Isaac Redman going in order to take pressure off of Roethlisberger. Mike Wallace has the kind of game-breaking speed to cause huge problems for the Cincinnati secondary.
- DefenseThe Bengals have the manpower and strength up front in Geno Atkins and Domata Peko to shut down the Steelers’ ground game, particularly when they try to run it up the gut. Linebacker Rey Maualuga is an excellent tackler who will need to have his best game against the Steelers.The Steelers have the top-ranked defense in the league. It’s difficult to move the ball against them consistently because they are punishing tacklers who don’t let running backs or receivers slip away. Safety Troy Polamalu is healthy once again and he led the Steelers in tackles against the Cowboys with seven.
- Special TeamsAdam Jones has turned out to be a solid asset for the Bengals on special team and he has returned one punt for a touchdown while recording a 14.1 yard average. Josh Brown is perfect on six field goal attempts since he had to take over for Mike Nugent (calf). The Bengals will go back to Nugent as soon as he is healthy.The Steelers have been very pleased with the performance of Shaun Suisham this year. He has made 25-of-26 field goal attempts this year, with a long of 52 yards. Drew Butler is averaging 43.9 yards per punt, but his net average of 38.1 is indicative of the team’s ordinary coverage.
Both teams need this game badly and when the Steelers are involved in end-of-season home games against division teams, you know that Mike Tomlin will not allow his team to come up short. Roethlisberger showed quite a bit of improvement against the Cowboys after a poor effort vs. San Diego in Week 14, so look for another strong game here.