1. It’s a trap! ... game for the Steelers
This may be a difficult game for the Steelers to prepare for. They are coming into the game off their two biggest games of the season, a 25-17 victory over the New England Patriots and last week’s crushing 23-20 defeat to the Baltimore Ravens. The fact that the Ravens were able to put together a 92-yard drive in the final minutes to win that one will no doubt gnaw at the Steelers psyche. The question coming into this one is simple, can the Steelers get up for the game? History has shown the Bengals have provided token opposition at best and that won’t work in Pittsburgh’s favour. With a bye week looming, the Steelers may already be starting to take the week off and that could kill them.
2. They can get to Big Ben
The Bengals have produced a consistently good pass rush all season and have not counted on any one individual as they been able to spread their 20 sacks around. More than that, the Bengals have been able to get pressure from their front four and don’t rely on the blitz. On the other side, the Steelers’ offensive line has been having problems all season and have allowed Ben Roethlisberger to be sacked 26 times. That figure could be a lot larger but for the fact that Big Ben is so big and strong and mobile that he avoids a large number of sacks by his strength and size. The matchups, though, say the Bengals should have Roethlisberger on the run. However, they will be hurt by the loss of defensive end Carlos Dunlop.
3. The Bengals will stuff the run
Overall, the Bengals’ defence is one of the best in the game as it is ranked fourth, but they are especially tough against the run. In that department, they rank second and have allowed just an average of 84.5 yards per game. On the season the Bengals have held the opposition to 676 yards rushing, an average of 3.7 yards per rush. They have also allowed just four rushing touchdowns this season. In past seasons, the Steelers have based a lot of their success on their ability to run the ball. But this season they have struggled and rank 19th overall due to problems on their offensive line. It would be a shock if they could establish the run Sunday.
4. They can contain the pass rush
Who is the Pittsburgh Steelers best pass rusher this season? The stats say it’s LaMarr Woodley by a mile as he has nine of the Steelers’ 23 sacks. The problem for Pittsburgh is that Woodley is out with a hamstring injury and will not be playing in Sunday’s game. With Woodley out, the Steelers best pass rusher is linebacker James Harrison and no doubt he will be double-teamed by the Bengals. To get to Andy Dalton, the Steelers will be forced to blitz and that could open things up in the secondary. For the most part the Bengals O-line has kept the wolves at bay as Dalton has been sacked just 13 times.
5. Andy Dalton has flame-red hair
Have you seen this guy with his helmet off? Man, his hair isn’t red, it’s glowing. I cannot remember a quarterback with hair the colour of Heinz Ketchup. In fact, the last time I’ve seen a man with hair as orange-red as Dalton was the bad dye jobs of the late, great Harold Ballard. With a solid career, and it starts Sunday with a victory over the Steelers, Dalton can guarantee entry into the red head Hall of Fame. Jeff Garcia had red locks, but even his hair colour was a pedestrian red which matched his NFL career. Dalton is I Love Lucy red and that will put the sparkle on what is destined to become a distinguished career.