It was a tough week one for the whole AFC North, and that included the Cincinnati Bengals, who many think will win the division in 2013.
While most know a lot about the Bengals being in the division, let’s get to know more and what five things in our scouting report the Steelers should look for Monday night.
1. Bengals Run Game Struggled Vs Bears – Just like the Steelers vs the Titans, the Bengals didn’t have much success in the way of running vs the Bears in Chicago in their opener. The running game put up just 3.0 yards per carry overall, with BenJarvus Green-Ellis averaging only 1.8 yards per carry, and he had four carries for negative yards.
As to why the run game was bad, OC Jay Gruden did say there were some blocking issues. Hopefully the Steelers can exploit those on Monday night again.
2. Long Drives Vs Bears – This is a stat you don’t normally see, but the Bengals had some LONG scoring drives vs Chicago in the loss. All three of the teams scoring drives were 80 yards or more, including a 9-play, 97-yard series and a 91-yard drive in eight plays.
Despite those drives, Chicago had the Bengals in TOP 31:30 to 28:30. Most of that can be due to the fact that Andy Dalton had to throw 33 times with the run game having issues. Look for Dalton to be in, at least, the high 20’s as far as throws vs the Steelers Monday.
3. Turnovers – The Bengals had some killer turnovers vs the Chicago, as a fumble and two picks led to free possessions for the Bears. Mohamed Sanu had the ball stripped early in the fourth quarter, and Charles Tillman matched a career high with two interceptions of Dalton.
If the Steelers want to pull off the win, they are going to have to pressure Dalton and make sure to get a couple of those free turnovers, something they didn’t do vs the Titans on Sunday afternoon. “We were pretty efficient on offense. Take away the fumble and interceptions which were self inflicted, we were up and down the field pretty good,” Gruden said.
4. Green Goblin – A.J. Green was at beast mode on Sunday, as he had 162 yards receiving and two touchdowns, including a 45-yarder. The Steelers will likely use Ike Taylor, as well as give him lots of help in terms of safeties dropping back to make sure he doesn’t have another monster game.
Remember last season in the game in Cincy Green caught just one pass for eight yards, and while it was a touchdown, the Steelers will take that trade off any day of the week. He’s dangerous, the Steelers found out the hard way in the December rematch in Pittsburgh.
5. Outcoached - Much like Mike Tomlin on Sunday, the Bengals coaching staff didn’t exactly have a good day at the office in Chciago vs the Bears.
The coaches were still being asked questions on Monday about clock management at the end of the first half, which in the end allowed the Bears to kick a field goal that in the end was a key three points.
The team also lost composure at key times, the biggest being late in the game with a shot to get the ball back after a 3rd-and-6 stop of Michael Bush, hot headed LB Ray Maualuga committed a personal foul away from the play, which gave the Bears a first down and the win.
Steelers coaches have to have a much better game plan than they did for Tennessee if they want any hopes of beating Cincy Monday night.