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Steelers Gab 2012 Week 16 NFL Preview – Cincinnati at Pittsbugh

It’s all or nothing tomorrow when the Steelers and Bengals do battle at Heinz Field. A win and the road to the playoffs becomes a lot more clearer for the Steelers. A loss, and next weeks game at home vs the Browns means nothing.

Can this team finally step up and do it?

Here’s our quick three keys to the game along with our pick for what should be an emotional game at Heinz Field for both teams with the playoffs all but on the line.

1. Beat Up the Red Head – Not really the Christmas spirit, but let’s be real, Andy Dalton has been awful vs the Steelers. The Bengals have lost their past five against Pittsburgh, and Dalton has never beaten the Steelers, with a passer rating vs the Steelers putrid. Dalton has a 72.0 rating with three touchdowns and three interceptions in December after posting a 117.2 rating with nine TDs and no picks in his final three games in November. The Steelers need to get to him early and often, and force some mistakes from him to give themselves a great shot at a win.

2. Hold Onto the Ball – This is the easiest thing that the Steelers HAVEN’T done in 2012, putting the ball on the ground at an alarming rate. The most frustrating are plays like last week when Antonio Brown was going off for a big return on a punt, then put the ball on the ground. The Bengals have allowed just 12.5 points per game over the past six, while forcing 15 turnovers. If the Steelers turn the ball over, and do it a couple of times, you can kiss the playoffs good-bye.

3. Be Physical, but Be Smart – This is a game that has a lot of emotion attached to it, and with as much pushing and shoving that will go on, the Steelers have to be sure to not draw unnecessary flags and either give the Bengals free yards, or even worse, first downs. There’s going to be a price to pay for not playing smart, and that’s a seat on the bench with as much as is on the line in this game. James Harrison has been solid as of late, and should have a huge game, but has to play within himself.

Prediction – I know that the Steelers have dominated the series and all that, but really that needs to be thrown out of the window here. This is a game that the Steelers need desperately, and usually when their backs are against the wall, they come out swinging. The Ravens game is a solid example of how the Steelers fight when they are being counted out. Look for Ben Roethlisberger to lead this offense to at least 23 points, and the defense to once again send Andy Dalton home with a loss. Pittsburgh 24 Cincinnati 13

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. DrGeorge

    December 22, 2012 at 8:31 pm

    We are supposed to be getting all of our CBs back, except Taylor. If so, we should win. But I see the final score being a lot closer than 11 points. But I hope you’re right, Matt. We need a Merry Christmas this year.

    • DrGeorge

      December 23, 2012 at 7:05 pm

      Post-game: Well, we got the CBs back, but they weren’t all healthy CBs. C. Allen and C. Brown did a decent job, as did K. Lewis as long as he lasted. The defense as a whole played hard and kept us in the game. In fact, today’s performance defensively was one of our better efforts of the season. The defense played as well as it could, given the available talent.

      The same is not true of the offense, which has consistently under-performed. Injuries to Ben and the O-line are certainly to blame in part. But so is the inability or unwillingness of Ben to run Haley’s offense effectively; notwithstanding Ben’s injuries, his decision-making today was questionable at times, and he held the ball too long and took way too many sacks. The dysfunction between Ben and the coaching staff must be addressed.

      The game was in many ways a replay of last week. This week, the fatal difference was Ben’s last minute INT (again) that gave the Bengals a field goal try they should never have had. Haley and Tomlin must also shoulder the blame for that. If we had simply kneeled down and run out the last few seconds, we would have gone to overtime and gotten better field position. It was a strange game in many ways, but the bottom line is obvious: an offense that can’t put up more than 10 points against the Bengals doesn’t belong in the playoffs.

  2. Jalen

    December 23, 2012 at 7:12 pm

    Well said…Now let’s go have %$#@ tea and crumpets!

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