The Cincinnati Bengals will make the playoffs and most likely win the AFC North, but in order to have less doubts and worries about the last part they’re going to need to get through a difficult test in the form of a red hot Pittsburgh Steelers.
The Steelers are only 7-5, but they’ve scored 30 points or more in the last four games, and hope that their ability to make things difficult for the Bengals when the two teams met in early November will be a foundation for a very important game for them against a team that’s allowing just 16.3 points per game this season, and has held teams to 10 points or less in three of their last four games. Going by points per game, the Bengals have the best defense in the NFL.
The Steelers don’t have Le’Veon Bell, but they have Ben Roethlisberger throwing the ball around to Antonio Brown and DeAngelo Williams helping from the backfield. Williams was supposed to be a veteran backup, something of an insurance policy to Le’Veon Bell. But Bell went down, and Williams is getting the touches. He’s not very consistent, or maybe it’s Mike Tomlin who isn’t consistent with his play calling. However, Williams gets the job done and more than that, with two games of over 130 rushing yards out of the last four, and out of the four times he had 20 or more carries, he finished with 127 yards or better.
The big issue might be Antonio Brown, who ha 1310 yards with 93 receptions and 7 touchdowns. He’s had four games of 100 receiving yards or more out of the last six, including that monstrous 284-yard performance against the Raiders. He picked up 118 yards with two touchdowns in the win over the Colts, adding insult to injury with a punt return taken 71 yards for the touchdown. There’s probably no one hotter than him right now in the NFL.
But as productive as the Steelers have been recently, they’re facing a caliber that might be a bit much for them. They’ve lost most of their games this season against what might be called ‘Super Bowl contenders’ with their defense often being an Achilles heel that’s impossible to overcome, which leads to Roethlisberger forcing things and creating turnovers. Despite their two losses, we’ve rarely seen the Bengals lose their heads or their gameplan this season, even when things don’t workout. It’s going to take another special day from the Steelers offense to make that happen.