Players to Watch
WR Mike Wallace - Averaging an NFL best 23.4 yards per catch, it is safe to say that Wallace is a home run hitter. Wallace is unbelievably fast and looks similar to WR DeSean Jackson. The 6'0" 199 lbs. receiver will be matched up against two great corners tonight, so his play making ability will really be tested.
RB Rashard Mendenhall - Look for Mendenhall to have a big game against a Bengals defense that is allowing 4.5 yards per carry. Mendenhall has struggled of late, but he should be able to take advantage of the banged up defense of the Bengals.
Lawrence Timmons - On a team filled with big name players on defense like James Harrison, Troy Polamalu,and LaMarr Woodley, Timmons is the forgotten man. In his third season, Timmons has really turned it on leading the team in tackles, and adding 3 sacks and an interception. Look for Timmons to continue to make plays tonight.
Key Matchup: Steelers Secondary vs Bengals Receiving Core - The one area that the Steelers are weak, is their pass defense which ranks 25th in the NFL. The Bengals biggest strength is the amount of weapons in their passing game. The one reason Steelers can come out on top of this match-up, however, is because of QB Carson Palmer. Palmer has been pretty bad this year. He has thrown some costly interceptions and has struggled on third downs (49 percent completion rate, 431 yards, 62 rating - Bill Simmons). With the Steelers ability to stuff the run, Palmer should be faced with a lot of third and longs, which is exactly what Troy Polamalu and the Steelers defense, which already has 10 interceptions, wants to see.
Why the Steelers Will Win: Ben Roethlisberger will have time to find the right guy. Roethlisberger is one of the best quarterbacks in the NFL at buying time going through multiple reads and finding the right receiver. The Bengals this year have had a very hard time of getting after the opposing teams quarterback (last in the NFL with 6 sacks), so Roethlisberger should have plenty of time to sit back and do what he does best. Roethlisberger with time + Mendenhall + defense creating havoc = easy win for the Steelers.
Prediction: Steelers 31 Bengals 13