Sunday night’s Steelers vs Bengals week 17 game, which has been moved to prime time (NBC), will have several key match-ups to determine whether the Cincinnati Bengals or Pittsburgh Steelers are AFC North divisional champions. From special teams, offense, and defense; certain players must win their positional battle.
Martavis Bryant vs Bengals Secondary:
Bryant has seven touchdowns this season and clearly is the Steelers best deep threat. The Bengals defense is ranked 22th in the league. When Bryant catches a pass of 30 yards or more the Steelers are 4-1.
The Bengals running backs vs Steelers defensive front seven:
Cincinnati backs Giovanni Bernard and Jeremy Hill are explosive rushers who can break off long runs. The Steelers’ defensive front seven has held running backs Jeremy Hill, Steven Jackson, and Jamaal Charles under 100 yards rushing over the past 3 weeks. The Bengals offense goes as the running game goes. Same goes for the Steelers defensive front seven.
Adam Jones vs Steelers special teams:
Jones is on pace to lead the league in kickoff and punt return yardage this season. The Steelers special teams unit has only allowed one kickoff return touchdown this season and zero punt return touchdowns. Forcing long drives in a hostile environment could lead to turnovers.
Steelers offense line vs Bengals defensive line:
It’s clear when Ben Roethlisberger has time to throw, he lights up defenses. The Bengals have inside and outside pass rushers such as Carlos Dunlap, Wallace Gilberry, Geno Atkins, and Robert Geathers. Last time they met, the Steelers put up 42 points. If the offensive line protects Roethlisberger and blocks well in the run game, the results could be similar.
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