It’s the second matchup between the Bengals and Steelers, as the two teams do battle for the second time in four weeks. The Steelers were seven points better the last time around, and the Bengals made just enough mistakes to allow the Steelers to walk away with a huge win.
The Bengals can’t be overlooked though, as they played the Ravens tough the following week, then beat the Browns after trailing by 10 at halftime last week at home.
They still are thinking about the postseason, while the Steelers are as well, though they are also hoping the Ravens slip up Sunday in Cleveland. With that, here’s our week 13 preview as the Steelers get set to battle the Bengals at Heinz Field.
1. Be Patient with the Run Game – The Bengals field a stingy defensive unit, though last week the Browns were able to find some holes. Cincinnati is ranked eighth in points allowed (19.5 per game) and fifth against the rush (92.7 ypg), but Cleveland posted 20 points while racking up 134 yards on the ground, the most the Bengals have allowed this season. Rashard Mendenhall wasn’t much of a key in the win over the Chiefs a week ago, but between he and Issac Redman, the team should have a steady diet of running, and hope that homework of last weeks game against Cleveland will show some holes in that Bengals defense again this week.
2. Keep Collecting Turnovers – The Steelers defense has always lived up to is reputation, but the defending AFC champs had trouble creating turnovers early on. Pittsburgh logged just six over its first nine games, but has six in the past two. The Steelers recorded three interceptions a week ago for the first time since January 2nd of last season. In the first meeting, they forced rookie QB Andy Dalton into mistakes, and this week they need to do that again to create short fields and get easy points.
3. Ground Benson – Bengals workhorse back Ced Benson had some big chunks against the Browns last week, but if the Steelers want to force turnovers, the key will be to make sure Benson does little against them. Pittsburgh has held its opponents to under 100 net rushing yards in four of its last five games and gave up 23 points or less for a 10th straight outing. Benson is the big back in the offense, and if he has a good day against the Black and Gold, it could give the Bengals a smell of an upset.
Prediction – Despite sweating out a Sunday night win over the Chiefs, I love the Steelers in this game. They are back at Heinz, where they have lost just once, and they should get LaMarr Woodley back, and he should create a spark along with Troy Polamalu. While the Bengals are still smellin the taste of possibly making it as a wild card, don’t forget they have beaten the teams they are supposed to be beating, but have struggled against fellow playoff contenders. The offense should have success, and the D will make it tough on Dalton to make plays. Steelers 27 Bengals 17
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