Matchup Problem: Ben Roethlisberger
Roethlisberger has had some big games against the Bengals and Cincinnati sometimes has trouble containing the scrambling quarterback. Big Ben has become the focal point of the Steelers offense and the days of a “ground and pound” running game are no longer representative of Steeler football. The Bengals will have to limit Pittsburgh’s big play passing game if they are to win on Sunday.
Player to Watch: Andy Dalton
Dalton has exceeded expectations this far, but he hasn’t really faced a defense quite like the Steelers. (Yes, San Francisco is a talented unit, but they don’t quite have the playmakers that Pittsburgh does). It will be interesting to see how Dalton fares against a unit that is almost certain to provide some sort of pass rush along with some coverages that could confuse a young quarterback. On the bright side, Dalton’s quick-reads and the Bengals short passing game are a good way to attack the Steelers.
How the Bengals can win:
Common logic might suggest that the Bengals should run heavily against the Steelers to keep the game close, but that isn’t the only course of action. Yes, Pittsburgh’s run defense has more holes than it usually does, but Baltimore’s game-winning drive last week was a perfect blueprint for how to beat the Steelers. Pittsburgh is extremely susceptible to the short passing game and after Ike Taylor, the Steelers cornerbacks leave a lot to be desired. Jay Gruden’s new West Coast offense, along with the quarterback who runs it, could expose the Steelers. But Dalton will have to avoid significant mistakes to win.