Players to Watch
WR Chad Ochocinco- He has been playing the role of Robin in the Steelers pass attack, allowing T.O. to amass some of his best statistics of his career. Many people thought T.O. was finished, but now he is a consistent target for Palmer in the red zone. With T.O. getting much of the attention from the Steelers secondary, look for #85 to see single coverage and big opportunities.
CB Leon Hall- Just like DeAngelo, this Hall has been a ball-hawk for the Bengals this year. Roethlisberger has shown very little rust, so the Bengals are going to need turnovers if they want to stop the Steeler’s offense. Hall has been challenged by opposing quarterbacks all year but is making them pay, and he will need to continue to do so tonight.
RB Cedric Benson- He isn’t producing at the same pace he was last season, partially because the Bengals have been down early and forced to abandon the run. He is going up against a the #1 run defense in the NFL, but Cincinnati desperately needs some production out of him in order to control the clock and tempo of the game. Look for the Bengals to get creative with their run offense and for Benson to try to help keep the Steelers' linebackers honest.
Key Matchup: Bengals Defensive Line vs. Ben Roethlisberger- Big Ben is not the fastest Qb and takes his fair share of sacks. In the loss to New Orleans, Roethlisberger was sacked 3 times and hit 7 times, and was forced to throw a lot of short passes. If the Bengals defensive line can get a solid pass rush on Roethlisberger, it will help their suspect defense tremendously. The Bengals do not have a great run defense, so they will need to make up for that in other ways. By putting the Steelers in 2nd or 3rd and longs after incompletions or sacks, Pittsburg will be forced to move away from the run.
Why the Bengals Will Win- The Bengals are still in the AFC North race, but a loss here would eliminate almost all hope. The Bengals play some of their best football when there are low expectations, and with this being a divisional game, they should have no problem being amped up. I think Palmer shows some of his past ability in this game and torches the Steelers’ secondary. The game will be high scoring, but thanks to turnovers, the Bengals defense will be able to stop the Steelers just enough to pull out a victory.
Prediction: Bengals 28, Steelers 24