Cincinnati Bengals vs. Pittsburgh Steelers: Who Has the Advantage?
Bengals vs. Steelers: Who Has the Advantage?
For the second time this NFL season, the Cincinnati Bengals and the Pittsburgh Steelers will meet in front of a nationally televised audience. However, this time the two teams will clash on Sunday night. In the last meeting between these two division rivals, the Bengals (9-4) outlasted the Steelers (5-8) by the score of 20-10.
Back in Week 2, Cincinnati took advantage of a Steelers team that had just been blindsided by three season-ending injuries to key players the previous week. As a result of those injuries, Pittsburgh’s running game was stuck in neutral, and their defense was unable to contain the Bengals’ offense.
Currently, Cincinnati sits atop the AFC North, while Pittsburgh finds themselves four games behind in the third spot of the division. This game is very important to both ball clubs. With a win and a loss by the Baltimore Ravens, the Bengals can clinch the divisional crown. Even if the Ravens don’t lose, Cincy can still preserve a playoff berth with a win and a loss by the Miami Dolphins.
As for the Steelers, they need this win just to stay alive for a wildcard spot in the AFC. Even if they win out the remainder of the regular season, and the Bengals lose their final three games, Pittsburgh still won’t have a shot at the AFC North championship.
This game has much at stake for both teams, and with the Bengals and the Steelers having so much familiarity with each other, this contest could be one that comes down to the wire. Everyone in the Who Dey Nation and the Steeler Nation will undoubtedly say that their team will have the advantage in this Week 15 battle. But let’s take a look and see who I think will come out on top.
Clyde A. Speller is an NFL writer for RantSports.com.
Steelers’ Pass Offense vs. Bengals’ Pass Defense
This battle can actually go either way. Cincinnati’s pass defense is ranked seventh in the league, while Pittsburgh’s pass offense is the NFL’s seventh best at this point in the season. The X-factor in this matchup has to be Steelers quarterback Ben Roethlisberger. Regardless of who Pittsburgh is up against, Roethlisberger tends to put up big numbers. Seeing that their back is against the wall, Big Ben and the Steelers’ passing game should show up big time.
Steelers’ Run Offense vs. Bengals’ Run Defense
The Steelers have yet to have a running back to go over 100 yards in a game this season. Even with rookie running back Le’Veon Bell in the backfield, Pittsburgh’s running game still will be contained by Cincinnati’s fifth-ranked run defense.
Bengals’ Pass Offense vs. Steelers’ Pass Defense
It’s no secret that the Bengals’ primary weapon in their aerial attack is wide receiver A.J. Green. The third-year veteran has 1,175 receiving yards and eight touchdowns on the year. Steelers’ cornerback Ike Taylor has struggled as of late against big play receivers. Taylor just might have hands full once again this week.
Bengals’ Run Offense vs. Steelers’ Run Defense
The one-two punch of Bengals running backs BenJarvus Green-Ellis and Giovani Bernard could throw the Steelers’ defense off balance. Pittsburgh’s defense had problems wrapping up last week, and having to deal with Green-Ellis’ north-and-south style of running mixed with Bernard’s shiftiness may be a bit overwhelming. Furthermore, Pittsburgh will more than likely be without nose tackle Steve McLendon, who is listed as questionable.
Steelers kicker Shaun Suisham should be his consistent self this Sunday. As long as the rest of Pittsburgh’s special teams unit can avoid penalties, they should do just enough to keep the Steelers in the game.
Both Bengals head coach Marvin Lewis and Steelers head coach Mike Tomlin are very aware of what the other is capable of doing. Just looking at the past few weeks, Lewis has his Bengals on a three-game winning streak, while Tomlin and his Steelers have tasted defeat in their last two games. It appears to me that one coach is doing the right thing, and one isn’t.
As stated before, I think that this game will be decided in the final minutes. As usual, Big Ben should put the team on his shoulders and keep them within striking distance, but with Cincinnati riding the wave of a three-game winning streak, and knowing that they can possibly clinch the division title will be all the motivation that they need to come out on top.
Prediction: Bengals 24, Steelers 17