Welcome to the Pittsburgh Steelers at 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: 8-5
Head Coach: Mike Tomlin (10th Season with Steelers)
Overall Regular Season Record: 100-57 (.637)
Playoff Record: 6-5 (Qualified for playoffs 6 times)
Last Game: Pittsburgh 27 Buffalo 20
Breakdown of the Steelers: Ben Roethlisberger’s road woes continued last week as he almost single-handedly kept Buffalo in the game. Big Ben threw for 220 yards with no touchdowns and three interceptions. The weather conditions were less than ideal, but a veteran like Roethlisberger should be elevating his game at this time of year, whether the game is being played at home or on the road. He’ll get a chance at redemption this week against a Bengals secondary that can be had.
Antonio Brown remains the best at his position, leading the league in receptions with 93. His 1,130 yards ranks third and is 2nd only to Jordy Nelson with 11 touchdowns. Eli Rogers has stepped up with the injuries to Sammie Coates, Darius Heyward-Bey, and Markus Wheaton. Neither Coates or Wheaton have been on the injury report the past two weeks, so perhaps they will find a way onto the stat sheet this week. Cobi Hamilton has made the most of his time with all the injuries as well. The Steelers promoted Demarcus Ayers, a seventh-round draft pick, from the practice squad. Ayers gives the Steelers four healthy wide receivers if Coates and his broken fingers can’t contribute in the passing game.
Jesse James has taken a backseat to Ladarius Green as Ben’s go-to tight end. Green was superb two weeks ago but registered only two catches for 25 yards against the Bills. He should find himself more heavily involved against the Bengals this week, who have had their issues defending athletic tight ends.
Le’Veon Bell is muscling his way into MVP talk with his standout performances. Despite playing three fewer games than most, Bell is 4th in rushing with 1,053 yards. He is 2nd behind David Johnson in receptions with 67 grabs for 563 yards. Bell has seven combined scores so far. Last week against Buffalo, he ran for a Steelers record of 236 yards. He should get some much-needed relief in the form of DeAngelo Williams, who should be able to suit up this week and give Bell a breather when needed.
The defense has upped its game over the past month, thanks to the contributions from the younger players such as Bud Dupree, Artie Burns, and Sean Davis. Pittsburgh has climbed to 11th in total defense and fourth in rushing defense. The once beleaguered secondary has improved nine spots to 21st in passing defense. They also are up to ninth in scoring defense and made dramatic leaps in sacks (from tied for last just four weeks ago to 11th) and interceptions (six in the past four games after having just four in their first nine).
“I feel like our defense is a unit on the rise,” Davis said. “We’re playing good. We’re playing better each week.”
A look at the Cincinnati Bengals!
Head Coach: Marvin Lewis (14th Season with Bengals)
Overall Regular Season Record: 117-101-3 (.536)
Playoff Record: 0-7 (Qualified for playoffs 7 times)
Last Game: Cincinnati 23 Cleveland 13
Breakdown of the Bengals: Andy Dalton and the Bengals haven’t had quite the season they were expecting back in training camp. With a record of 5-7-1, Cincinnati is unlikely to keep their playoff streak alive in 2016. Dalton has thrown for 3,555 yards and only been picked six times, but he has found the end zone just 16 times. Early season injuries to Tyler Eifert, and now A.J. Green haven’t exactly helped.
Green is doubtful for Sunday, so Brandon LaFell and Tyler Boyd will have to step up in his absence. Eifert has been on fire since his return. He is already fifth on the team with 28 receptions for 385 yards and has hit paydirt five times.
Jeremy Hill is the lead back and has rushed for 788 yards with eight rushing TD’s. He has 20 receptions for 166 yards as well. Rex Burkhead has stepped in for the injured Giovani Bernard and has flashed his potential.
The Bengals changed kickers during the week, releasing Mike Nugent after a string of missed extra points and field goals. They claimed Randy Bullock off waivers a day after he was released by the Steelers.
The Bengals rank 11th in scoring defense and have gotten to the quarterback 25 times. They are 25th against the rush, allowing 119.1 yards a game, which plays right into the Steelers hands. Cincinnati does have a bevy of ball-hawkers, however, as they are 2nd in the NFL with 15 interceptions. Safety George Iloka and corner Dre Kirkpatrick each have three picks.
Game Preview: Let’s not kid ourselves here. These two teams do not like each other. The Steelers and Ravens have had some epic battles, but there was always a mutual respect for one another.
Not in this game. This is pure hatred.
”We love playing against Pittsburgh, so we’re eager for the week and the task at hand,” Adam ”Pacman” Jones said. ”It’s always different when we play those guys. Just one of those games that you mark on your calendar every year. I know I do, those two games.”
The Steelers return to the scene where they shocked the Bengals with a last-minute rally last January, ending the dreams of a first-ever playoff victory for Marvin Jones. Penalties on Bengals linebacker Vontaze Burfict and cornerback Jones moved Pittsburgh into range for the winning field goal in the final seconds.
Players and fans wept openly as the clock hit zero for the game. Now Pittsburgh can have the satisfaction of once again ending Cincinnati’s season with a win Sunday. The Steelers are 26-19 lifetime playing in Cincinnati.
Paul Jones Stadium has become a second home to Steelers fans over the past decade.
Plenty of Steelers fans is expected to make the short drive and fill the stadium with their Terrible Towels, making the Steelers feel right at home.
”Typical one down there – crazy, riled up,” said Ben Roethlisberger, who is 11-2 at Paul Brown Stadium. ”It’s the AFC North. It’s us coming to town. Maybe not as crazy as it would have been if it was that initial 8:30 p.m. (kickoff), but I still expect the fans to come out for it and for it to be a typical Steelers-Bengals game.”
The Bengals have been responsible for season-ending injuries to Le’Veon Bell the past two years. Bell expects the Bengals to try to draw the Steelers into sometimes dirty and retaliatory play that has defined this rivalry in recent seasons.
“I’m going to go out there and play football and beat them with my football play,” said Bell. “I’m not going to get into all the trash talking and all the dirty play that they’re going to do. I’m going to go out there and play football.”
The weather will be cold and windy, but not much snow is expected. Pittsburgh will look to control the line of scrimmage by getting Bell involved both by land and air. By keeping the Bengals defense off-balance, Roethlisberger and the passing game should be able to find its legs after a few awful road performances against Cleveland and Buffalo. Eli Rogers will be valuable in the slot as the Bengals will look to contain Antonio Brown as long as they can. Ladarius Green should have a chance to shine in this one as Cincinnati has had trouble stopping top flight tight ends this year.
Pittsburgh’s defense will most likely have the benefit of facing the Bengals without A.J. Green. Expect plenty of blitzes to keep Andy Dalton as uncomfortable as possible. Dalton has been sacked 36 times this year. With Green out, Tyler Eifert should have a busy day, so Steeler linebackers and safeties will have to find a way to make Eifert’s contributions as minimal as possible.
As long as the Steeler offense doesn’t shoot itself with costly turnovers, Pittsburgh should be able to control this game from start to finish. The first 30 minutes will likely be a slugfest before the most talented team takes over in the second half.
Prediction: Steelers 27 Bengals 16
Fantasy Football Impact
Start: QB Ben Roethlisberger, WR Antonio Brown, RB Le’Veon Bell, TE Ladarius Green
Sleeper: Steelers D
Ok, I know Ben Roethlisberger continues to struggle on the road. He killed me last week, too. But he’s too good of a QB not to have in your line-up unless you have one of the normal Top 3 of Brady, Brees, or Rodgers. Le’Veon Bell is the best player in the NFL. Antonio Brown is the top WR in the game. The Bengals have trouble containing tight ends, so Ladarius Green should have a nice game. Don’t look now, but the Steelers Defense has elevated its game.
Start: TE Tyler Eifert
Sit: RB Jeremy Hill, QB Andy Dalton, WR A.J. Green
If you’re starting Andy Dalton, then chances are, you aren’t in the Fantasy Playoffs. A.J. Green is likely out, so you’re left with Tyler Eifert as your only hope from the Bengals.
NFL Week 15
Pittsburgh Steelers (8-5) at Cincinnati Bengals (5-7-1)
Venue: Paul Brown Stadium, Cincinnati, OH.
Game-time: Sunday, December 18th, 1:00 pm
TV: CBS | Announcers: Ian Eagle (play-by-play) Dan Fouts (analyst) | Evan Washburn (sideline)
Local Radio: Pittsburgh- 102.5 WDVE-FM | Announcers: Bill Hillgrove (play-by-play) Tunch Ilkin (analyst) | Craig Wolfley (sideline)
National Radio: Sports USA | Announcers: Wayne Randazzo (play-by-play) Mark Carrier (analyst)
Weather at Kickoff: Overcast and 28 with a 15% chance of flurries. Winds 10-15 mph.
Vegas Line: Pittsburgh -3
- Series History: Series began in 1970
- The Steelers are 57-35 in the overall Regular Season series against the Bengals.
- Steelers are 26-19 against the Bengals in Cincinnati.
- Streak: Steelers won previous two meetings.
- Last Regular Season Meeting: Sept. 18, 2016, in Pittsburgh- Pittsburgh 24 Cincinnati 16
- 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
- Bengals HC Marvin Lewis was born in McDonald, Pa. and coached for the University of Pittsburgh from 1990-91.
- Bengals rookie WR Tyler Boyd is a graduate of Clairton High School and played collegiately at the University of Pittsburgh.
- With a win, the Steelers will have swept the Bengals in their regular-season series for the 19th time in series history and for the first time since 2014 (1982 not included due to shortened season).
- Ben Roethlisberger With a win, would improve to 19-7 vs. Cincinnati in the regular season and to 11-2 on the road at the Bengals.
- Roethlisberger is three touchdown passes from tying John Elway for the ninth most in NFL history (300).
- Antonio Brown needs seven catches to mark his fourth straight season with at least 100 receptions and to extend his franchise record of consecutive seasons with at least 100 catches to four.
- Brown needs two touchdown catches to tie Lynn Swann (51) for the third-most touchdown grabs in team history.
- Le’Veon Bell will move into a tie with Barry Foster and John Henry Johnson (26) for the sixth-most rushing touchdowns in team history with his next rushing score and is two rushing touchdowns from sole possession of sixth in team history.
- Bell needs 36 rushing yards to surpass Rocky Bleier (3,865) for the eight-most in Steelers history, 114 to move into seventh (Barry Foster: 3,943), 136 for sixth (Dick Hoak: 3,965) and 160 for fifth (Frank Pollard: 3,989).
- James Harrison is a half-sack from 80.0 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.
QB- Ben Roethlisberger (3,254 yards passing | 25 TD passes | 11 interceptions | 16 sacks)
RB- Le’Veon Bell (1,053 yards rushing | 6 rushing TD’s | 67 receptions | 563 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
RB- DeAngelo Williams (276 yards rushing | 3 rushing TD’s | 15 receptions | 91 yards receiving | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Antonio Brown (93 receptions | 1,130 receiving yards | 11 receiving TD’s)
WR- Eli Rogers (33 receptions | 374 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Sammie Coates (20 receptions | 425 receiving yards | 2 receiving TD’s)
WR- Cobi Hamilton (12 receptions | 153 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
TE- Jesse James (33 receptions | 273 receiving yards | 3 receiving TD’s)
TE- Ladarius Green (13 receptions | 232 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
K- Chris Boswell (Extra Point: 29-29 | FG: 14-18 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 2-2 | 30-39: 6-7 | 40-49: 6-7 | 50+: 0-2 | Long: 49)
QB- Andy Dalton (3,555 yards passing | 16 TD passes | 6 interceptions | 36 sacks)
RB- Jeremy Hill (788 yards rushing | 8 rushing TD’s | 20 receptions | 166 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
RB- Rex Burkhead (151 yards rushing | 0 rushing TD’s | 9 receptions | 77 yards receiving | 0 receiving TD’s)
WR- A.J. Green (66 receptions | 964 receiving yards | 4 receiving TD’s) * Doubtful
WR- Tyler Boyd (48 receptions | 526 receiving yards | 1 receiving TD’s)
WR- Brandon LaFell (44 receptions | 574 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
WR- James Wright (11 receptions | 93 receiving yards | 0 receiving TD’s)
TE- Tyler Eifert (28 receptions | 385 receiving yards | 5 receiving TD’s)
K- Randy Bullock (Extra Point: 1-1 | FG: 3-3 | 0-19: 0-0 | 20-29: 0-0 | 30-39: 2-2 | 40-49: 1-1 | 50+: 0-0 | Long: 44)
Steelers – Bengals Offensive vs Defensive Comparison
Steelers Offense: Steelers average 374 YPG | Bengals allow 357.3 YPG
Rushing: Steelers average 112.8 YPG | Bengals allow 119.1 YPG
Passing: Steelers average 261.2 YPG | Bengals allow 238.2 YPG
Scoring: Steelers average 24.4 PPG | Bengals allow 20.7 PPG
Steelers Defense: Steelers allow 342.7 YPG | Bengals average 371.1 YPG
Rushing: Steelers allow 90.1 YPG | Bengals average 114.6 YPG
Passing: Steelers allow 252.6 YPG | Bengals average 256.5 YPG
Scoring: Steelers allow 19.7 PPG | Bengals average 20.6 PPG
Injury Report (12/16/2016)
Out: WR Darrius Heyward-Bey (foot), S Shamarko Thomas (concussion)
Doubtful: DE Wallace Gilberry (calf), WR A.J. Green (hamstring)
Questionable: LS Clark Harris (groin), S Derron Smith (thigh), TE C.J. Uzomah (calf), WR James Wright (knee)
NFL Standings as of 12/16/2016
Pittsburgh Steelers 2016 Schedule
Friday, Aug. 12 DETROIT L, 30-17
Thursday, Aug. 18 PHILADELPHIA L, 17-0
Friday, Aug. 26 @ New Orleans W, 27-14
Thursday, Sept. 1 @ Carolina L, 18-6
Regular Season (8-5)
Monday, Sept. 12 @ Washington W, 38-16
Sunday, Sept. 18 CINCINNATI W, 24-16
Sunday, Sept. 25 @ Philadelphia L, 34-3
Sunday, Oct. 2 KANSAS CITY W, 43-14
Sunday, Oct. 9 NEW YORK JETS* W, 31-13
Sunday, Oct. 16 @ Miami* 1 p.m. L, 30-15
Sunday, Oct. 23 NEW ENGLAND* L, 16-27
Sunday, Oct. 30 BYE WEEK
Sunday, Nov. 6 @ Baltimore* L, 14-21
Sunday, Nov. 13 DALLAS* L, 30-35
Sunday, Nov. 20 @ Cleveland* W, 24-9
Thursday, Nov. 24 @ Indianapolis W, 28-7
Sunday, Dec. 4 NEW YORK GIANTS* W, 24-14
Sunday, Dec. 11 @ Buffalo* W, 27-20
Sunday, Dec. 18 @ Cincinnati* 1:00 p.m. (CBS)
Sunday, Dec. 25 BALTIMORE 4:30 p.m. (NFL Network)
Sunday, Jan. 1 CLEVELAND* 1 p.m. (CBS)
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 7-8 Wild Card Weekend
Sat.-Sun., Jan. 14-15 Divisional Playoff Games
Sunday, Jan. 22 Conference Championships
Sunday, Jan. 29 Pro Bowl (Orlando, Fla.)
Sunday, Feb. 5 Super Bowl LI (Houston, Texas)