PITTSBURGH STEELERS (6-3) at CINCINNATI BENGALS (6-2)
Sunday, 1:00 P.M. ET, CBS, Direct TV (707), Sirius (Pit 91, Cin 82)
Can the Cinderella Bengals go two-up on the vaunted Steelers? Are the Steelers still reeling after being swept by the Ravens? Can the broadcaster cajole the NFL to roll the Flex schedule earlier in the season than Week 11 so that surprise teams like Cincinnati get the national audience they deserve?
What To Watch
Steelers wide receiver Antonio Brown (No relation, but love that name) is still a free agent in many fantasy leagues, according to ESPN. Brown has been essential in Pittsburgh’s evolution from a smashmouth running offense to a smashmouth passing offense. The Bengals are riding high on a five-game win streak with a respectable win over the Bills, then feasting on the likes of the Jaguars, Colts, Seahawks and Titans. As impressive as Cincinnati QB Andy Dalton and receiver A.J. Green have been, they do not match the Steelers’ passing game. Green’s stats as the Bengals’ leading receiver (40 Receptions, 599 Yards, 5 TDs) are marginally better than Brown who is the Steelers’ No. 2 wide-out (39 Receptions, 540 Yards, 1 TD).
To win, Cincinnati’s pass defense must stifle Pittsburgh’s pass offense. The good news? The Bengals have the NFL’s 10th-best pass defense. The bad news? That’s the worst pass defense in the division. Pittsburgh, Baltimore and Cleveland, who happen to be Cincinnati’s next four opponents (Steelers rematch, Dec 4), rank third, fourth and first, respectively. Pittsburgh won seven of the last nine against Cincinnati and they are favored by three points as a road team.
Who Will Win
The Steelers are about to find out that the Bengals’ defensive line is very good. Cinci’s D-line will own Pittsburgh’s offensive line, but they will not bring Ben Roethlisberger to ground. This game will be so close it is a near-Pick-’em. Cincinnati’s wins over cupcakes reveals nothing. Like Pavlov’s dog and everyone else, we are conditioned to pick the Steelers.