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Steelers Gameday

Steelers-Bengals Pregame Primer: Keys to Victory, Bold Prediction



Steelers Bengals Tyler Boyd

The Pittsburgh Steelers just beat the Cincinnati Bengals four weeks ago, but it sure doesn’t feel like they come into this game with their AFC North rivals feeling confident.  Since that game, the Steelers have lost three straight, two of them against two-win teams at home, and the Bengals have won three straight, beating three playoff teams.

Will the recent trends hold or will the same matchup problems that caused the Bengals to sink in Cincinnati again plague them farther up the Ohio River in Pittsburgh?

Gameday: Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals, 4:30 p.m.

KEY TO VICTORY: Protect Mason Rudolph

If the Steelers offense line doesn’t protect Mason Rudolph any better than they have been protecting Kenny Pickett and Mitch Trubisky, then Rudolph’s latest turn as the starter might not last very long.

The long-term knocks against Rudolph have been a combination of a lack of overall foot speed, just so-so ability to feel the rush coming, and arm talent that is best suited to holding onto the ball and trying deep shots. That means that Rudolph is prone to taking a lot of hits, and the Steelers OL has been prone to allowing them.

If this experiment is going to work better than the last two and a half games under Trubisky, the offensive line must do a better job of protection.

OVERLOOKED MATCHUP: Tyler Boyd vs. Chandon Sullivan, Eric Rowe

Tee Higgins is the scary member of the Cincinnati receiving options, and his ridiculous touchdown against the Minnesota Vikings last week highlights exactly why he’s so dangerous.

But when it comes to the matchup with the Steelers, Higgins should be an easier problem to solve than some of the Bengals’ other weapons. The Steelers will put Joey Porter Jr. on Higgins, and while the talented wide out will make some catches, that’s a mtachup the Steelers feel good about.

The Steelers’ problems with tight ends and backs out of the backfield the last few weeks has been significant, and that’s been a big focus of the defensive efforts this week. But Tyler Boyd presents just as big of a problem. The Steelers have used Patrick Peterson in the slot against bigger targets like Boyd, but he will be starting at free safety. That means that Chandon Sullivan and Eric Rowe will likely be the ones charged with slowing down the big slot target, and that’s a matchup Cincinnati should like.

BOLD PREDICTION: Steelers Fans Learn Chase Brown’s Name

Four weeks ago, the Pittsburgh Steelers defense handed Joe Mixon his worst game of the season. Mixon rushed eight times for just 16 yards as the Steelers completely shut down the Cincinnati rushing attack. Since then, though, the Bengals have found another answer in rookie Chase Brown. Brown is more of a traditional third-down back to complement Mixon, and he’s very dangerous in the receiving game. That’s a place the Steelers have struggled, and Brown has the speed and open-field chops to really gash the Steelers if they get sloppy.

I expect the Steelers to try to pressure Jake Browning throughout the game, so Brown could get a lot of work as a check-down option. My bold prediction is that the rookie goes over 100 yards from scrimmage for the second time in his career.


If the Steelers can protect Rudolph, their offense can get going like it did last time against Cincinnati. The defense should feel pretty good about most parts of this matchup, if their patchwork replacements can hold together. I think the defense can do just enough, but a turnover will put them in a bad spot that they can’t recover from and Cincinnati wins a relatively close game.

Bengals 20, Steelers 13

Last week: Steelers 20-3 (L)
Season: 7-7

Steelers +3 (-110)

Under 38.5 (-110)

Pat Freiermuth over 2.5 receptions (-155)

Last week: 0-3  (L Steelers +1.5, Under 42.5, Pickens over 3.5 rec)

Season: 22-20

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