Key Match Ups: Bengals at Steelers

The Steelers and Bengals face off this week in what is a very important game for both teams.  If the Steelers win they will at least a two game lead over all the other teams vying for a Wild Card spot.  They will only have 4 games to go with 2 of them being versus Cleveland and one against the Rams.  Almost guaranteeing them a playoff spot.

The Bengals on the other hand are already one game behind the Steelers.  If they lose this week they will be tied with all of the other Wild Card contenders.  They still have to play the Ravens the last game of the season.  They could finish with four losses putting them right in the middle of the mess at the end of the season.  The Bengals should come out like a ball of fire and be extremely well prepared to play.  This game could be their season.  A win and they give themselves a cushion.  The Bengals need this game more.  They will be ready.

There are some good match ups in this game.  The Bengals have a few young emerging players on offense that the Steelers will have to contend with.  A.J. Green could have been the difference in the game last time but was injured to early to get the Bengals over the hump.  Jermaine Gresham is now healthy and has played well in the last few games.  On the other side of the ball the Bengals have developed a two unit rotation with their front four.  The Steelers should have an advantage on the outside though with Leon Hall out for the year.  This is going to be a great game.

Match Ups:

  • Ike Taylor vs. A.J. Green- This could be the key to the season for the Bengals.  Green was only able to play a quarter and a half last time out against the Steelers.  Green injured his knee on a great touchdown catch in the first quarter.  He only was involved in one more play where he got the ball on the next drive.  He spent the rest of the game either on the bike or on the bench.  When Green left the game the score was 14-10 Steelers.  I fear A.J. Green.  He is a freak athlete and going to be one of the best receivers in the game one day.  We now have to face him twice a year for who knows how long.  Green missed one game with the injury and is now back and playing strong for the Bengals.  In his last game he made 3 huge catches.  They totaled 110 yards and a touchdown.  Ike Taylor will have his hands full with Green.  Ike likes to ask to take away the other teams best receiver.  If he can take him away this week it should really cause the Bengals offense to sputter.  This will be a match up to watch this week.
  • Jermaine Gresham vs. Steelers Safeties and Linebackers- Gresham is healthy and ready to go this week versus the Steelers.  Out of everyone in the division the Steelers had the most luck against Gresham.  Even if he scored a touchdown he only got 3 balls for 28 yards.  Against the division the last 2 weeks Gresham has 8 catches for 116 yards.  He is becoming somewhat of a safety blanket for Andy Dalton.  That is a good choice for that type of use.  The Steelers linebackers will have to hit him as he comes off the line of scrimmage to throw off his routes.  We may see a good dose of Cortez Allen if Gresham makes a few plays early.  I like Timmons against Gresham as well.  This is where Timmons athletic ability can really come into play.
  • Bengals Front Four vs. Steelers Offensive Line-  This is the match up that matters most to the Steelers offense.  The Bengals have a good two group rotation up front so their big guys are always fresh.  That gave the Bengals the ability to harass Roethlisberger all game long last time these two faced off.  They hit Roethlisberger 13 times in the game.  Eight of those times came from the Defensive line.  These guys up front also were involved in all 5 of the sacks on Big Ben.  These guys got pressure all game long.  That is even without Carlos Dunlap who looked to be on his way to a big season before an injury.  Dunlap looks to be very questionable for the game this week as well.  Hopefully the Steelers will not have to deal with him.  The Steelers are dealing with an illness for Maurkice Pouncey who lost a good amount of weight last week.  The illness caused him to have to come out last week.  That would be a big blow to the Steelers against this unit.
  • Antonio Brown vs. Bengals Secondary- Cincinnati has already had a good dose of Brown in the first match up.  Brown was able to make 5 catches for 86 yards versus the Bengals.  The Bengals were and are still part of Brown’s run of big games in the last 5 weeks.  Brown had 30 catches for 445 yards in that time.  He is becoming Roethlisberger’s third down target.  He is being called on for a much bigger role then earlier in the season.  Roethlisberger and Brown started off slow being just a few beats off with their chemistry.  That has picked up and now they are on a great streak.  The Bengals already will have their hands full with Mike Wallace since Leon Hall is not there to lock him down.  That will take away two guys to keep him in check.  That should leave a big hole for Brown to take advantage of this week.
Big game for everyone.  This should be the game to watch this weekend.  I can not wait.