NFL: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals Preview
Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals Preview! This is your one-stop shop for everything you need to know about the Steelers and their upcoming opponent! Mike Drakulich of Pittsburgh SportsNation brings you inside the huddle for both teams, provides a game outlook, score prediction, individual stats, team stats, Fantasy Football impact, the most up-to-date injury report, and even the weather at kickoff! The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
Overall Record: 4-2
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (11th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 107-59 (.645)
Playoff Record: 8-6 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Game: Steelers 19 Chiefs 13
Scouting the Steelers
Quarterback- Ben Roethlisberger leads a vastly underperforming offense that has the ability to beat you via the ground or the air. Big Ben has normally been outstanding at home but has struggled to put up the same numbers on the road the past few seasons.
Running Backs- Le’Veon Bell is considered to be one of the best all-around backs in the NFL, if not the best. Bell can kill you on the ground with his speed and elusiveness. He is patient, often delaying a second to find the hole to burst through. Bell is also dangerous out of the backfield as a pass catcher. James Conner will spell Bell from time to time.
Wide Receivers- Antonio Brown is the best receiver in the game. You can count on five catches for at least 50 yards every week at a minimum. This wideout group is extremely deep and talented. Martavis Bryant is a deep threat on every play with his size and speed. Eli Rogers is excellent from the slot. Justin Hunter has superior speed and is also a deep threat. Rookie Juju Schuster-Smith is looking to make his mark in the NFL in his first season and is already becoming a reliable Roethlisberger target. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams but is a dependable player when called upon in the passing game.
Tight Ends- Jesse James is the starter and becoming one of Roethlisberger’s favorite targets around the endzone. Vance McDonald is a big target that can make splash plays for Roethlisberger across the middle and inside the redzone. Xavier Grimble is also a nice target for Ben inside the 10 yard line.
Defense- The Steeler defense is primed for an awakening in 2017. On the 3-4 defensive line, it’s Cam Heyward, Javon Hargrave, and Stephon Tuitt. Daniel McCullers will rotate with Hargrave. Should Tuitt or Heyward go down, Tyson Alualu or L.T. Walton would step in.
At linebacker, rookie TJ Watt starts at OLB, with Ryan Shazier and Vince Williams in the middle. Bud Dupree stands opposite of Watt. Both can get at the quarterback and disrupt the opposing team’s passing game. Shazier is a stud in the middle and his speed makes him a nightmare for any QB who makes a mistake across the middle. Don’t count out James Harrison, who will rotate in to spell Watt or Dupree. Anthony Chickillo will also step in for injuries to Watt or Dupree on the outside and is making a name for himself every time he steps on the field.
The secondary has been revamped with the addition of Joe Haden at corner. He won’t have to guard the opposing team’s #1 wide receiver on every down, as that job falls to Artie Burns. Mike Mitchell lines up at free safety, with JJ Wilcox backing him up if injured. Sean Davis is getting better by the game at strong safety. Mike Hilton and Will Gay will be in at slot corner positions when called upon.
A look at the Cincinnati Bengals!
Overall Record: 2-3
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (11th Season with Bengals)
Overall Regular Season Record: 120-106-3 (.531)
Playoff Record: 0-7 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Week: Bye (Bengals 20 Bills 16 -Week 5)
Scouting the Bengals
Quarterback- Andy Dalton, like Roethlisberger, hasn’t quite found his stride yet in 2017. To his credit, Dalton has been better in his last two starts.
Running Backs- Joe Mixon is the starter, with Giovani Bernard getting looks out of the backfield on 3rd down situations.
Wide Receivers- A.J. Green remains one of the best receivers in football. The rest of the group? Not very impressive in Brandon LaFell, Tyler Boyd, and Alex Erickson who has just 26 catches combined between them, and Boyd is out this week.
Tight Ends- Tyler Eifert is out for the year, but Tyler Kroft has stepped up nicely in his absence. He has nabbed 14 reception for 139 receiving yards and two TD’s.
Defense- The Bengals offense hasn’t been up to snuff, but the defense has played excellent. The Bengals are allowing just 262.8 yards per game and giving up only 16.6 points per game.
Week seven is upon us and the Pittsburgh Steelers have a great chance to distance themselves from everyone in the AFC North this Sunday. With the Ravens already game behind and facing a tough test at Minnesota, Pittsburgh can give themselves a three-game advantage in the win column over their rivals in Cincinnati with a victory at home this Sunday at Heinz Field.
The defense is licking their chops in facing a Bengals offense that has been quiet in 2017.
“(Being No. 1 in 2017) is what we expected to do and how we are capable of playing,” said safety Mike Mitchell, the only starter who has been with the team the past three seasons. “So no one in our locker room is shocked. No one in our organization is shocked.”
The defense has been able to keep teams from making splash plays that can change the momentum and outcome of many games in the NFL.
The Steelers know well enough that Bengal’s wide receiver A.J. Green is someone they will have to keep under wraps this Sunday if that success is to continue.
“We know we’ve got the guys to be one of the top pass defenses in the league,” Mike Hilton said. “We have shown that through these first few games, and we want it to continue.”
Only three WR’s have found the endzone against the defense in the first six games. It’s a matter of pride to corner Artie Burns.
“We want to be the No. 1 pass defense in the league and the No. 1 defense in the league,” Burns said. “That’s always our goal. We will do whatever we need to do to get it.”
Getting up for this one won’t be a problem, as Steelers-Bengals is as nasty a rivalry as Steelers-Ravens has always been. Cincinnati linebacker Vontez Burfict has been a big part of keeping this game a vicious one, as he has been responsible for season ending injuries to both Le’Veon Bell and Antonio Brown in the past. He is as beloved to Steeler fans as ice is on the Parkway.
Problem is, unlike the Ravens, the Bengals never seem to find a way to better the Steelers, who kind of treat Cinci like a petulant little brother or cousin.
Well, sort of…
“They’re not brothers,” Bengals safety George Iloka said of the Steelers to ESPN.com. “It’s that cousin that your parents invite over that you’re not really cool with, that’s what that is. They’re there for Thanksgiving dinner, and you’re like, ‘Man, why did you all invite them this year?’ That type of thing.”
Word around the locker-room was the Bengals were blasting a certain song during their practices…
“Oh, they played ‘Renegade’ today at practice?” Steelers linebacker Ryan Shazier said when told. “Oh, man.”
Renegade, usually heard before a huge defensive stand needed at Heinz Field, might’ve even grown its roots during a Steeler-Bengal game back in the early 2000’s if this writer remembers correctly.
Said center Maurkice Pouncey: “No way. They’re playing our song? Aww, that’s cute.”
The Bengals are a chippy team, one with players that like to get in extra shots after a play is done. That is something that hasn’t gone unnoticed by Steeler players, who feel they are the ones who get targeted by referees for retaliation when they play each other.
“I see their film when they play against other people, and other (teams’ players) get away with stuff that we don’t get away with,” Steelers guard Ramon Foster said. “You see a little extra shoving from the (other Bengals) opposing teams, (but) if we did that or tried to get the last shove, it becomes a ‘thing’ with them.
“I don’t know why. For whatever reason it is. For whatever reason …”
Keys To Victory
- Feed Le’Veon Bell! The more the merrier in getting Bell into a great flow. The Bengals play an aggressive style of defense, so perhaps a slip screen or Wheel Route for #26.
- Throw high percentage passes! The Steelers have great weapons with speed. Get in some slants to Antonio Brown.
- Utilize all of your weapons! Throwing to Brown isn’t a bad idea, but when you have playmakers like Martavis Bryant, Eli Rogers, and even Vance McDonald, use them!! Spread the wealth and keep the opposing defense guessing.
- Get after Andy Dalton! It’s tee-off time for Bud Dupree, T.J. Watt, and James Harrison. Hit Dalton early and often.
- Beware Giovani Bernard out of the backfield! Bernard is a sneaky guy catching passes on third downs and finding the sticks for first downs.
- Contain A.J. Green! Easier said than done, but Artie Burns should be up to the task. Keep double coverage on Green and force the Bengals to go to players they aren’t too enamored with.
With Kansas City losing on Thursday night to Oakland, the Steelers have a golden opportunity to be in the driver’s seat for the overall #1 in the AFC win a win Sunday. Every team in the NFL has it’s flaws, including the Steelers, who seem to be their own worst enemy inside the Red Zone. This team has no business averaging just 19.7 points per game. Cincinnati’s defense is playing great, so a huge breakout offensively doesn’t seem likely this week. That said, this team owes itself and the fans after being whacked by Jacksonville 30-9 in their last home game.
The run defense will take a hit this weekend with Stephon Tuitt out, as will the offensive line with Marcus Gilbert being doubtful. The Bengals will be shorthanded in the secondary without Adam ‘Pac Man’ Jones, and their WR corps will be even thinner with Tyler Boyd out. That said, you can’t help but like the Steelers at home against a Bengals team with a struggling offense.
It may not be pretty, but in the end, the Steelers will stand tall by Sunday evening.
Steelers 24 Bengals 13
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, Steelers D
Sleeper: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Martavis Bryant
Brown and Bell are always going to be in your starting line-up if you are lucky enough to have them. Roethlisberger usually finds a way to torture Cincinnati, and the squeaky wheel may get some oil this week in Martavis Bryant.
Start: WR A.J. Green
Sit: The rest of the Bengals except…
Sleeper: RB Joe Mixon
Green will get some nice stats. Mixon may have a nice day if he can get some looks out of the backfield. The Steelers were able to contain Kareem Hunt last week, so…
NFL Week 7
Pittsburgh Steelers (4-2) vs Cincinnati Bengals (2-3)
Venue: Heinz Field, Pittsburgh, PA.
Game-time: Sunday, October 22nd 4:25 pm
TV: CBS (Local KDKA-TV) | Announcers: Jim Nantz (play-by-play) Tony Romo (analyst) | Tracy Wolfson (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: N/A | Announcers:
Weather at Kickoff: 76 and sunny.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -5.5
- Series History: Series began in 1970.
- The Steelers are 58-35 in the overall Regular Season series against the Bengals.
- Steelers are 31-16 playing at home vs Cincinnati.
- Streak: Steelers won previous three meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Dec. 18, 2016, at Cincinnati- Pittsburgh 24 Cincinnati 20
- Steelers are 2-0 in the Post-Season vs the Bengals.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 9, 2016, at Cincinnati- Pittsburgh 18, Cincinnati 16 – AFC Wild Card
- Ben Roethlisberger with a win, would improve to 20-7 vs. Cincinnati in the regular season as a starter and to 9-5 at home against the Bengals.
- Antonio Brown will surpass Marvin Harrison (563) for the most receptions in any five-year span in NFL history with 83 in 2017.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2017, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in five consecutive years.
- Le’Veon Bell needs two rushing scores to tie Terry Bradshaw (32) for the fourth-most in franchise history.
- James Harrison is 2.5 sacks from 85 in his career with the Steelers.
- William Gay will break a tie with Rod Woodson to set the record for the most interceptions returned for touchdowns in team history with his next pick six of six.
- Ryan Shazier’s next interception will match his single-season best of three (2016).
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (1,521 yards passing | 7 TD passes | 8 interceptions | 10 sacks)
RB- Le’Veon Bell (550 yards rushing | 4 rushing TD’s | 30 receptions | 156 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- James Conner (69 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Antonio Brown (48 receptions | 700 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Martavis Bryant (17 receptions | 231 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Juju Schuster-Smith (15 receptions | 192 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Eli Rogers (6 receptions | 54 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Justin Hunter (2 receptions | 11 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Jesse James (18 receptions | 151 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
TE- Vance McDonald (1 receptions | 26 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Xavier Grimble (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 11-11 | FG: 11-13 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 4-4 | 30-39: 4-5 | 40-49: 3-4 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 49)
QB- Andy Dalton (1,220 yards passing | 7 TD passes | 6 interceptions | 15 sacks)
RB- Joe Mixon (187 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 11 receptions | 78 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Jeremy Hill (98 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 4 receptions | 16 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Giovani Bernard (91 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 10 receptions | 164 yards receiving | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- A.J. Green (32 receptions | 504 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
WR- Brandon LaFell (15 receptions | 108 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Tyler Boyd (6 receptions | 43 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- Alex Erickson (5 receptions | 74 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Tyler Kroft (14 receptions | 139 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
TE- C.J. Uzomah (2 receptions | 32 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
K- Randy Bullock (Extra Point: 5-5 | FG: 8-9 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 3-3 | 40-49: 2-3 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 46)
Steelers – Bengals : Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 360.8 | Bengals allow 262.8 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 107.3 YPG | Bengals allow 103.2 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 253.5 YPG | Bengals allow 159.6 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 19.7 PPG | Bengals allow 16.6 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 272 YPG | Bengals average 238 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 118.5 YPG | Bengals average 84 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 153.5 YPG | Bengals average 244 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 17 PPG | Bengals average 16.8 PPG
Injury Report (10/20/2017)
Out: DE Stephon Tuitt (Back)
Doubtful: T Marcus Gilbert (Hamstring)
Out: WR Tyler Boyd (Knee), HB Ryan Hewitt (Knee)
Doubtful: CB Adam Jones (Back)
Questionable: WR John Ross (Knee), S Derron Smith (Ankle)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2017 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 11 @ New York Giants W, 20-12 (KDKA)
Sunday, Aug. 20 ATLANTA W, 17-13 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 26 INDIANAPOLIS L, 19-15 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 31 @ Carolina W, 17-14 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (4-2)
Sunday, Sept. 10 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 21-18
Sunday, Sept. 17 MINNESOTA 1 p.m. (FOX), W– 26-9
Sunday, Sept. 24 @ Chicago 1 p.m. (CBS), L- 17-23
Sunday, Oct. 1 @ Baltimore 1 p.m. (CBS), W– 26-9
Sunday, Oct. 8 JACKSONVILLE 1 p.m. (CBS), L- 9-30
Sunday, Oct. 15 @ Kansas City 4:25 p.m. (CBS), W– 19-13
Sunday, Oct. 22 CINCINNATI 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 29 @ Detroit* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 5 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 12 @ Indianapolis* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 16 TENNESSEE 8:25 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 26 GREEN BAY* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Monday, Dec. 4 @ Cincinnati 8:30 p.m. (ESPN)
Sunday, Dec. 10 BALTIMORE* 8:30 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 17 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 25 @ Houston 4:30 p.m. (NBC/ NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Dec. 31 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to ﬂexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 6-7 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 13-14 Divisional Playoﬀ Games
Sunday, Jan. 21 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 28 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 4 Super Bowl LII (Minneapolis, Minn.)