Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals Week 2 Preview: Who Has the Advantage?
Pittsburgh Steelers-Cincinnati Bengals: Who Has the Advantage?
No one would have thought that after just one week of regular-season play, that a Week 2 divisional battle would be considered a must-win game. This is most certainly true for the Pittsburgh Steelers and the Cincinnati Bengals, who will square off at Paul Brown Stadium on Monday night.
Both the Steelers (0-1) and the Bengals (0-1) are coming off disappointing losses. And just like Pittsburgh and Cincinnati, the Baltimore Ravens and the Cleveland Browns also tasted defeat in Week 1, and will be facing each other this week. What this means is that by the end of this week of play, barring any ties, there will be two teams tied for first in the AFC North while two teams will be winless and at the bottom of the divisional standings.
These circumstances make this Monday night showdown all the more intriguing. However, as interesting as this game may seem, on paper it doesn’t appear to be that way. Even in defeat this past Sunday, the Bengals looked fairly decent on defense, and even better in their passing game. As for the Steelers, just about everything that could go wrong, did go wrong.
Pittsburgh’s running game was stagnant, their porous offensive line allowed five sacks and their special teams still seemed to be in limbo from the preseason.
In addition to Pittsburgh’s lackluster overall performance, several players were lost for the entire season due to severe injuries.
Having taken the time to see how both of these divisional rivals matchup, I’ve taken the liberty of seeing who will have the advantage in this all-important Week 2 contest.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com. Follow him on Twitter @ClydeASpeller, or add him to your network on Google+
Steelers pass offense versus Bengals pass defense
Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger is one of the top passers in the league, and is capable of single-handedly winning a game for his franchise. Despite not having his favorite target in the lineup, Roethlisberger does have a few potent weapons in his arsenal. However, it will be extremely difficult to use those weapons with defensive tackle Geno Atkins and the rest of the Bengals’ defensive front breathing down his neck. And by the way, former Steelers linebacker James Harrison will be right along with them.
Steelers run offense versus Bengals run defense
Last week, the Bengals held Chicago Bears running back Matt Forte to just 50 yards rushing. The Steelers’ 32-yard rushing performance in Week 1 doesn’t give any indication that they will be ready to face one of the best defensive lines in the league, especially without their Pro Bowl center Maurkice Pouncey.
Bengals pass offense versus Steelers pass defense
Bengals wide receiver A.J. Green is one of the best receivers in the league and will be a handful for the Steelers’ secondary. In addition, Cincinnati’s two-tight end formation might be a problem for inexperienced Steelers linebacker Kion Wilson when dropping in coverage.
Bengals run offense versus Steelers run defense
Probably the only silver lining in Pittsburgh’s ugly Week 1 loss is that they contained one of the league’s fastest runners in Tennessee Titans running back Chris Johnson. Cincinnati doesn’t have anyone in their backfield that strikes fear into the heart of any defense. Even without linebacker Larry Foote, the Steelers should do the same this week.
Until Pittsburgh’s special teams unit cleans up the dirty act that they’ve displayed since the preseason, I’ll never give them the edge.
Pittsburgh has won five of the last six meetings against Cincinnati. During that time, both coaches have grown quite familiar with each other’s way of game planning, and virtually nothing will come as a surprise. With both teams vying for a spot in first place in the AFC North after Week 2, Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin and Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis will have their respective teams more than ready.