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Colorcast Week 12 Pregame Report: Steelers at Bengals

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The Pittsburgh Steelers are making their annual road trip to Cincinnati in Week 12 to take on the Cincinnati Bengals. Sitting at 1-1-1, the Steelers have had a rather lackluster month of November and are currently third in the AFC North standings. Meanwhile, the Bengals are coming off a big win last week and are sitting in second place behind the Baltimore Ravens in the division. Although the Steelers are entering this contest healthier than when they last faced in Week 3, the Bengals are also healthy and have built momentum as we head into December.

Without further ado, let’s take a look at some things we can look forward to on Sunday.






MATCHUPS AT A GLANCE


Offense: This week’s offensive formula should be a simple one; whatever the offense did in the Week 3 loss, do the complete opposite. In that contest, Ben Roethlisberger was running for his life the whole game, threw the ball 58 times, only had a single touchdown, and tossed two interceptions to Bengals’ linebacker Logan Wilson. Najee Harris only ran the ball 14 times for 40 yards, but led the team in receiving with 14 receptions for 102 yards. For the Steelers to win this week, Roethlisberger can’t throw 58 times and Harris can’t only get 14 carries. Although the last game came when the Steelers were still creating their new scheme and offensive line, they’ve had enough time to work out the kinks and find their identity on offense. Looking at the Bengals’ losses to the Chicago Bears, the Green Bay Packers, the New York Jets, and to the Cleveland Browns, they gave up a total of 506 yards rushing, averaging over 126 rushing yards per game. Although the Bengals’ rush defense is only allowing an average of 98 rushing yards per game so far this season, this has been the key for defeating them. I’m watching for Harris to alleviate pressure off Roethlisberger on offense, thus not pressuring him to have to force errant passes and leave points on the field.

Defense: Welcome back, T.J. Watt. After sitting out the Week 3 contest against the Bengals and again this past week against the Los Angeles Chargers, Watt returns to action this week. Looking back to the game earlier this season, the Steelers’ defense didn’t get any hits on Bengals’ quarterback Joe Burrow and didn’t post a single sack. This allowed Burrow to get comfortable in the pocket and pass three touchdowns, one of which being a deep ball to rookie Ja’Marr Chase at the end of the first half over the head of James Pierre. This week’s formula is going to be back to what the Steelers do; collapse the pocket, sit back in zone coverage, and force Burrow to throw when he isn’t ready. Although the Steelers will be without Joe Haden (foot), they’ll get back Minkah Fitzpatrick to help in the secondary. After giving up 374 passing yards to the Chargers last week, Fitzpatrick’s return is a welcomed sight. If I’m watching specific match-up’s between these two squads, I’m watching Joe Mixon versus linebackers Joe Schobert and Devin Bush, along with Tyler Boyd and Chase against the Steelers’ secondary. Both Chase and Boyd led the Bengals’ offense in Week 3, and they should be top priority for defensive coordinator Keith Butler’s defense this week.






PREDICTION


As of Saturday afternoon, the Bengals are favorited by 3.5 points. Don’t get me wrong, the Bengals are the better team on paper, but that is too many points against a division rival in a big game. With Watt back, the Steelers’ offense now in gear, and the Steelers in “must win” mode, I see the Steelers pulling this one out. Prediction, 31-27, Steelers.



FINAL THOUGHTS


All time, the Steelers hold a 65-37 record against the Bengals. As I mentioned earlier, the Steelers are 1-1-1 so far in November and head coach Mike Tomlin has never had a losing record in November. For those college football fans out there, this week is “The Game”, which is the annual game featuring Ohio State University and University of Michigan. Coincidently enough, this game has had some correlation with the Steelers’ results, both good and bad. Going back to 1933, the Steelers are 39-46-2 on games played the week of the Ohio State and Michigan game. But in that same stretch, the Steelers are 10-8-1 against teams from Ohio, and are 3-1 against the Bengals. Looking back to 2000, the Steelers are 11-9 the week of the Ohio State and Michigan game, are 5-1 against teams from Ohio, and are 2-0 against the Bengals. Depending on how you look at those numbers, this could either lead to another Steelers’ win against an Ohio team or another loss, adding to their all-time losing record.



What are you watching for on Sunday? What do you think the final outcome will be? Let us know in the comments below!

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