Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day: An In-depth look at the Cincinnati Bengals
Welcome to the most comprehensive Pittsburgh Steelers Game Day Preview on the internet! IroniqMedia brings you 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, providing all fans with a Game Preview, the Steeler’s Keys to Victory, Score Prediction, a detailed breakdown of each team, Fantasy Football Impact, Game Information, Individual Stats, Team Stats, and the latest Injury Report. Heck, you even get the weather at kickoff. The only thing you’re missing is a game uniform!
STEELERS SET TO REKINDLE BRUTAL RIVALRY VS CINCINNATI
Vontaze Burfict has had his share of run-ins with the Steelers over the years. He’s been responsible for a number of dirty plays and questionable hits that have resulted in injuries to various Steeler players. So when JuJu Smith-Schuster had a chance to atone for a few of those incidents, he leveled Burfict with one of the hardest hits of the 2017 season.
This also happened to be the same game Ryan Shazier suffered his spinal injury that has prevented him from playing ever since.
After burying Burfict, Smith-Schuster stood over him, obviously drawing the ire of the entire Bengal’s team.
“There was a lot of emotions on both sides of the ball, obviously with Shazier and what I did,” Smith-Schuster said. “But it’s just a physical game – that’s what you’re going to get out of it.”
Is JuJu worried about retaliation?
“I’m just worried about the game,” said Smith-Schuster, “and just playing focused and playing with my teammates and just going out there and coming out with a victory.”
In just his 2nd season, Smith-Schuster understands what this game means between two heated rivals.
“It’s AFC North, and the rivalry is a very strong rivalry,” Smith-Schuster said. “It’s physical and it’s going to be a tough game. It’s going to be a tough game to go in there and get a W.”
Former Pitt Panther and Pittsburgh native Tyler Boyd also knows full well what will be occurring when his Bengals take on the Steelers at Paul Brown Stadium at 1:00 pm.
“At the end of the day, playing against the Steelers, I don’t think guys will care,” said Boyd. “They are still going to go out to try to kill us, and we are going to try to kill them. It’s going to be fast, penalties all over the place, but hopefully, they catch more penalties than we do. Hopefully, we don’t get any of them. We hit them clean and let them try to retaliate and let the refs catch them.”
Retaliations aside, the winner of this game will have major ramifications for the rest of the season. A loss by the Steelers would put them at 2-3-1, and nearly three games behind the Bengals who would be 5-1. But a Steelers victory would lift the Steelers to a 3-2-1 record headed into their bye, and give them some momentum, and an edge over the Bengals for the time being.
“This is a rivalry,” said Stephon Tuitt. “We can’t let this slip away from us. We have to go in there ready to fight.”
All four teams in the AFC North are within striking distance of each other.
“It’s big for us. This division right now is like a spider web with everything going on,” said Ramon Foster. “Each week that we play each other we have to make sure we are on spot with what we are doing. I think both teams realize this division is a lot tighter than it has been in years past. The teams that execute the best and don’t hurt themselves are teams that are going to be the No. 1 seed.
“This is a tough game this week. They have always had good teams. They always have a good defense. I have had more people hit me up for tickets to this game than any other game. We understand what is going on right now. Our division is tight. Everybody is vying for a spot as far as trying to make it in the postseason. These games are crucial right now. It’s crazy we are playing so many so early. We have to be on point this week.”
“We’ve had battles, plenty of battles,” Haden said. “They had me following him (Green) the same way I’d follow ‘A.B.’ (when Haden was with Cleveland covering Antonio Brown).”
At 5’11 and 195 pounds to his frame, Haden isn’t afraid to get physical with big receivers.
“The bigger guys, it’s easier to be able to get your hands on them,” Haden said. “The dudes that are more my size, (the Giants’) Odell (Beckham Jr.), ‘A.B,’ they’re a little quicker so you kinda miss them off the line.
“The bigger dudes, there’s just more frame you can get your hands on.”
If Ben Roethlisberger and Antonio Brown are able to keep their WiFi connection strong, the Steelers should be in good position to continue their winning ways against the Bengals.
“I think we just got to see what we’re capable of doing,” Roethlisberger said. “I think guys did their job. We talk about trying not to do too much, doing more than your job. I tell the guys before the game: If we, collectively, if we all do our jobs, we’re pretty darn good.”
Big Ben knows players like Burfict will be in pursuit to hammer him and all the Steelers offensive players as hard as they can, every chance they get.
“It’s AFC North football,” said Ben Roethlisberger. “It’s one of those games that can get chippy at times. You hope it doesn’t. You hope it’s a good, hard-fought football game. Sometimes it gets a little chippy. We’ll do our best to put the past behind us and play it like it’s a normal football game.
“We’re going to go in and play the game like it’s a normal game, AFC North, physical football game. We can only control half of the players out there. We know how important this game is for us to get a ‘W.’”
The Steelers have won their past five games vs Cincinnati.
Steelers Keys To Victory
- Keep that WiFi signal boosted between Big Ben and Antonio Brown!
- Mix it up with James Conner on the ground and through the air.
- Get Vance McDonald going in the middle.
- Hit Andy Dalton early and often.
- Joe Haden keeps A.J. Green under wraps.
- Make Bengals one-dimensional.
Expect another hard-hitting, physical affair when these two teams clash again this Sunday afternoon. Roethlisberger and the Steeler offense was humming last week in their 41-17 demolition of the Falcons at Heinz Field. Roethlisberger will have to find a way to cut down on the poor decision-making that has led to some bad interceptions in 2018. The Bengal’s defense can be scored upon, but they thrive off of creating turnovers, which aids a pretty decent offense when given a short field to work with. The best game plan would be to maintain a balanced attack as they did vs Atlanta. James Conner was superb last week in front of strong play by the offensive line. Mixing it up with Conner on the ground and getting him active in the passing game will keep the Bengals honest in their blitz packages in trying to get to Roethlisberger.
Everyone knows what Antonio Brown and JuJu Smith-Schuster bring to the table, but it’s time for James Washington to step his game up to create some space for both Brown and Smith-Schuster to work with. Roethlisberger also needs to use his tight ends in Vance McDonald and Jesse James more often, especially in check downs. That doesn’t mean eliminating the deep ball, which is an effective weapon this team utilizes, it’s just a better idea than to force throws to Brown when he is double or triple covered.
The defense has been playing better the past two weeks, giving up only two touchdowns a piece to the Ravens and Falcons. The team turned up the heat in getting to Matt Ryan last Sunday, and it would behoove them to continue that trend. This team is at it’s best when it gets after the opposing quarterback and plays physical ball.
Should be a wild one at Paul Brown Stadium, but look for the Steelers to outlast the Bengals and head into their bye week with momentum and a boatload of confidence.
Steelers 31 Bengals 24
NFL Week 6
Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Venue: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.
Kickoff: Sunday, October 14th, at 1:00 pm
TV: CBS (locally KDKA-TV, channel 2) | Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analyst) | Evan Washburn (sideline)
National Radio: N/A | Announcers:
Weather at Kickoff: 57 and cloudy. Winds 5 mph SSE.
Vegas Line: EVEN
Fantasy Football Focus
- Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, RB James Conner, WR Antonio Brown, WR JuJu Smith-Schuster
- Sleeper: TE Vance McDonald
- Sit: TE Jesse James, Steelers D
- Start: WR A.J. Green, WR Tyler Boyd
- Sleeper: N/A
- Sit: QB Andy Dalton
- Series History: Series began in 1970.
- The Steelers are 60-35 in the overall Regular Season series against the Bengals.
- Steelers are 28-19 on Road vs the Bengals.
- Streak: Steelers won previous five meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Dec. 4, 2017, in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh 23 Cincinnati 20)
- Steelers are 2-0 in the Post-Season vs the Bengals.
- Last Post-Season Meeting: Jan. 9, 2016, in Cincinnati (Pittsburgh 18 Cincinnati 16) – AFC Wild Card
- Bengals WR Tyler Boyd is a graduate of Clairton High School and played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh.
- Ben Roethlisberger needs 10 touchdown passes to record No. 350 in his NFL career.
- Roethlisberger with a win would improve to 22-7 vs. Cincinnati in the regular season as a starter and 13-2 on the road at the Bengals.
- Antonio Brown needs one touchdown catch to reach the 65th in his NFL career and with the Steelers.
- Brown, with 100 catches in 2018, will become the first player in NFL history to record 100 or more receptions in six consecutive years.
- JuJu Smith-Schuster is two touchdown receptions shy of 10 in his NFL career.
- T.J. Watt needs five sacks to reach 15 in his NFL career.
- Cam Heyward is a half sack from becoming the third Steelers’ defensive lineman to accumulate 40 quarterback takedowns since sacks became an official statistic in 1982.
A look at the Pittsburgh Steelers!
- Overall Record: 2-2-1
- Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (12th Season with Steelers)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 118-62-1 (.655)
- Playoff Record: 8-7 (Qualified for playoffs 8 times)
- 2018 Pittsburgh Steelers Roster
- Steelers Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Game: Pittsburgh 41 Atlanta 17
Scouting the Steelers
Ben Roethlisberger has been up and down all season but is still putting up big numbers in the passing game. Big Ben’s big arm, along with his uncanny ability to slip out of the pocket and extend plays makes him one of the league’s best.
Le’Veon Bell is one of the league’s best backs. He is dynamic in both running and catching the ball out of the backfield, but until he signs his contract and reports to the team… who cares? James Conner is more than capable of shouldering a starters share of carries. He has slimmed down and has added speed and quickness to an already powerful running style. Conner has become a dual threat with Bell out. Jaylen Samuels is an H-Back type of player that can line up all over the field. He is especially dangerous catching passes out of the backfield. Steven Ridley is a capable runner that can be counted upon on an as-needed basis.
What more can you say about Antonio Brown? He is the league’s best wide receiver. His dedication and drive to be the best is unmatched by any player in the league. JuJu Smith-Schuster heads into his 2nd season and has picked up where he left off. Speaking of rookies, James Washington was a Camp favorite of Roethlisberger, and could quickly establish himself as a dangerous weapon in the slot as the 3rd receiver. Justin Hunter is a nice deep threat. Darrius Heyward-Bey is mainly used on special teams. Ryan Switzer has been good in the return game but has also established himself as a reliable target for Roethlisberger out of the slot.
Jesse James is reliable as ever. Vance McDonald is looking to make a big impact in his 2nd year as a Steeler, looking to build off a 10-catch, 112-yard day in a postseason loss to the Jaguars. Xavier Grimble provides a big target for Roethlisberger in the Red Zone.
Up front, the Steelers deploy Cam Heyward and Stephon Tuitt as their defensive ends. In the middle, Javon Hargrave and Daniel McCullers will rotate. Tyson Alualu and Kameron Canaday will see time at defensive end as well. L.T. Walton can play all three spots.
The linebacker unit goes Bud Dupree and T.J. Watt on the outside, with Vince Williams and Jon Bostic in the middle. Anthony Chickillo and Matthew Thomas back-up Dupree and Watt, while L.J. Fort and Tyler Matakevich are reserves in the middle.
In the secondary, Artie Burns and Joe Haden are the starters at cornerback. Backing them up will be Brian Allen, Mike Hilton, Cameron Sutton, and Coty Sensabaugh. Rookie Terrell Edmunds starts at strong safety, with Morgan Burnett backing him up and seeing plenty of action in nickel and dime formations. Sean Davis is the starter yet again at free safety, with Jordan Dangerfield and Marcus Allen as reserves.
- Ben Roethlisberger (1,664 yards passing | 11 TD passes | 6 interceptions | 9 sacks | 39 yards rushing | 1 TD’s)
- James Conner (342 yards rushing | 5 rushing TD’s | 22 receptions | 239 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Stevan Ridley (28 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 1 reception | 5 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Jaylen Samuels (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 0 receptions | 0 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Roosevelt Nix (0 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 1 reception | 19 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Juju Smith-Schuster (35 receptions | 450 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Antonio Brown (235 receptions | 373 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
- Ryan Switzer (12 receptions | 60 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- James Washington (5 receptions | 49 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Justin Hunter (1 reception | 6 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Darrius Heyward-Bey (0 receptions | 0 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Vance McDonald (13 receptions | 206 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Jesse James (12 receptions | 248 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Xavier Grimble (1 reception | 9 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 14-17 | FG: 3-6 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 3-3 | 40-49: 0-3 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 39)
A look at the Cincinnati Bengals!
- Overall Record: 4-1
- Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (16th Season with Bengals)
- Overall Regular Season Record: 129-113-3 (.533) | 129-113-3 (.533) with Bengals
- Playoff Record: 0-7 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
- 2018 Cincinnati Bengals Roster
- Cincinnati Team Statistics, including Defensive Stats
- Last Week: Cincinnati 27 Miami 17
Scouting the Bengals
Andy Dalton has played well this season. In five games he has amassed 1,445 yards passing with 12 TD’s and seven INTs. Dalton has been sacked nine times.
A.J. Green may be the Bengals best receiver, but it’s Tyler Boyd that leads the team with 30 catches on the year. Green is tops all Bengals with 409 yards receiving and five touchdowns. John Ross is coming along nicely as a rookie. Alex Erickson is mainly used in special teams as a returner.
The Bengals love to play physical, but they can be had both through the air and on the ground. They are giving up 26 points per game, but are extremely opportunistic at creating turnovers.
- Andy Dalton (1,445 yards passing | 12 TD passes | 7 interceptions | 9 sacks | 31 yards rushing | 0 TD’s)
- Joe Mixon (272 yards rushing | 1 rushing TD’s | 9 receptions | 79 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Giovani Bernard (155 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 14 receptions | 78 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
- A.J. Green (26 receptions | 409 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
- Tyler Boyd (30 receptions | 393 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- John Ross (7 receptions | 79 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- Alex Erickson (4 receptions | 32 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
- *Tyler Eifert (15 receptions | 179 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- C.J. Uzomah (9 receptions | 117 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
- Randy Bullock (Extra Point: 18-18 | FG: 7-9 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 2-3 | 40-49: 2-2 | 50+: 1-2 | Long: 51)
Steelers – Bengals: Offense vs Defense Match-Up
- Steelers Offense: Steelers average 416.8 YPG | Bengals defense allows 394.8 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers average 84 YPG | Bengals defense allows 118.2 YPG
- Passing: Steelers average 332.8 YPG | Bengals defense allows 276.6 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers average 28.6 PPG | Bengals defense allows 26 PPG
- Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 401.2 YPG | Bengals offense averages 384.4 YPG
- Rushing: Steelers allow 105 YPG | Bengals offense averages 95.4 YPG
- Passing: Steelers allow 296.2 YPG | Bengals offense averages 289 YPG
- Scoring: Steelers allow 26.6 PPG | Bengals offense averages 30.6 PPG
Injury Report (10/12/2018)
- Out: RB Le’Veon Bell (Contract), S Morgan Burnett (Groin), WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (Ankle)
- Doubtful: LB L.J. Fort (Ankle)
- Questionable: None
- Out: HB Giovani Bernard (Knee), TE Tyler Kroft (Foot), C Billy Price (Foot)
- Doubtful: None
- Questionable: CB William Jackson (Knee), OT Cedric Ogbuehi (Wrist), WR John Ross (Groin)
Pittsburgh Steelers 2018 Schedule
Thursday, Aug. 9 @ Philadelphia W, 31-14 (KDKA)
Thursday, Aug. 16 @ Green Bay L, 51-34 (KDKA)
Saturday, Aug. 25 TENNESSEE W, 16-6 (KDKA/NFL Network)
Thursday, Aug. 30 CAROLINA W, 39-24 (KDKA)
REGULAR SEASON (2-2-1)
Sunday, Sept. 9 @ Cleveland 1 p.m. | TIE – 21-21
Sunday, Sept. 16 KANSAS CITY 1 p.m. | L- 42-37
Monday, Sept. 24 @ Tampa Bay 8:15 p.m. | W – 30-27
Sunday, Sept. 30 BALTIMORE 8:20 p.m. | L- 26-14
Sunday, Oct. 7 ATLANTA* 1 p.m. | W – 41-17
Sunday, Oct. 14 @ Cincinnati* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Oct. 21 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Oct. 28 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Nov. 4 @ Baltimore* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Thursday, Nov. 8 CAROLINA 8:20 p.m. (FOX/NFL Network/Amazon)
Sunday, Nov. 18 @ Jacksonville* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Nov. 25 @ Denver* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 2 LOS ANGELES CHARGERS* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 9 @ Oakland* 8:20 p.m. (NBC)
Sunday, Dec. 16 NEW ENGLAND* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Monday, Dec. 23 @ New Orleans* 4:25 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 30 CINCINNATI* 1 p.m. (CBS)
* – Times may change due to flexible scheduling
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 5-6 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 12-13 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 20 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 27 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 3 Super Bowl LIII (Atlanta, Ga.)