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Regular Season Game Eight at Cincinnati: Keys and Prediction

The Steelers loss to the Saints can either be a hiccup, or maybe the start of the team going backwards. For now, I am going with the hiccup, as I can’t see this team falling apart like some in past seasons. With that, here are this weeks keys and predictions for the Monday night battle with the Bengals.

1. Get to Palmer – The Steelers pass D the past few weeks hasn’t been playing all that well, as last week they allowed Drew Brees to pick them apart. While it will be up to Ike Taylor and Bryant McFadden to hold down Dumb and Dumber (OchoCinco and Owens), the pass rush of the Steelers has to force Palmer into some mistakes and some poor throws. Harrison and Woodley need to have big games, and it could force Palmer into some bad decisions.

2. Back to the run game – Yes Ben is back, but the team needs to get back to rushing the ball with a bit more attitude. They have shown in spurts that Rashard Mendenhall can take over a game and have a big play, but they need to get back to that for a couple series or even a half. Mendenhall can dominate this game, and while I wouldn’t doubt that Ben hits a big play or two, the run game needs to control this game.

3. Start converting in the red zone – The red zone plays the past few weeks have been downright terrible. Last week they had three shots inside the one, and settled for a 19-yard field goal, which totally killed the teams momentum. They have a center (Pouncey) that is playing like a Pro Bowler in his first year, a running back that can take over games, and a QB that is big and tall and should be able to push for a yard in almost any play. So start doing it when the chance is there!

Prediction – Last weeks loss can quickly be pushed aside if the team rebounds vs the Bengals here on the road. This is the toughest stretch of the year, and a loss here can really start a downward spiral that concludes next week with the now 6-1 Patriots in another prime-time test. The good thing is the Steelers are the better team, and as long as they don’t make mistakes early, give the crowd a reason to be in the game, and play the Bengals in Cincy like they have in the past, minus 2009, they should be able to control this game.   Steelers 27 Cincinnati 14

Matt Loede has been in the sports media for over 16 years, with experience covering the MLB, NBA, and NFL. On Sunday’s during football season, you can hear Matt on national networks like Fox Sports Radio, Associated Press, and others. Born and raised in Cleveland Ohio, Matt studies and talks football inside and out, and is anxious to share his thoughts and comments with readers on a daily basis.



  1. Mike

    November 7, 2010 at 6:42 pm

    Not liking our chances tomorrow night. There is something about this team that i do not like. i think it is their lack of attention to detail and poor ball security. I hope i am wrong but i do not like our chances…

  2. DrGeorge

    November 8, 2010 at 1:34 pm

    Those who saw last week’s debacle in New Orleans will understand your pessimism, Mike, even if they don’t share it. Ben played about as poorly as he has in years (we are still paying for his suspension), and our defense against the pass (porous) did not inspire confidence. But if the Steelers don’t get caught looking beyond this game, they should be more than a match for the struggling Bengals. On offense, look for a greater emphasis on the run and a higher rate of third down conversions. On defense, watch the coverage of the mid to deep passing routes. If we win those battles, we will win the game. On balance, I do like our chances — but I’m not at all happy with our recent execution on either side of the ball, and that’s what I’ll be focusing on tonight, with an eye toward the playoffs.

    On a positive note, let’s give a little credit to Wm. Gay and J. Worilds. Gay was pilloried last year for his play at CB by most observers, including me. He simply isn’t a good corner. But he has played very capably in dime coverage. (We recommended that switch here last season, and so far, it has worked out.) I am also impressed with the development of Worilds, a rookie LB who has filled in capably when asked and seems to get better with every game.

    Now an open question for my colleagues here: last week, to bring McLendon up from the practice squad, the team had to demote someone else. I recommended Urbik, the second round pick at OG who has yet to do anything of note. I figured no one would want him. Several other names were mentioned by the commentors here, but no one suggested T. Gibson, our fourth round pick at LB, who was the player ultimately sent down and who was immediately claimed. Does anyone know why the Steelers coaching staff tossed Gibson to the wolves? Was he a poor 4th round choice? Or was he merely expendable, given our depth at LB? Any thoughts, guys?

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