While the Cincinnati Bengals were very close to coming away with the win in their season debut, the Pittsburgh Steelers looked terrible in about every possibly way, bringing the two AFC North rivals with big aspirations to a matchup that has the feeling of a ‘must-win’ to it.
The Bengals have an incredible talented and deep front seven, which spells trouble for the Steelers, who lost 9-16 to the Tennessee Titans in week 1. Ben Roethlisberger was sacked five times in week 1, was intercepted once and fumbled the ball another time, as his offensive line couldn’t protect for most of the afternoon against the revamped Titans offense.
One fired up individual should be James Harrison, who was released by the Steelers back in March after the sides couldn’t agree on a restructured deal. Harrison might not be as effective as he was during his prime with the Steelers, but he’s a very dangerous pass-rushing threat, especially with the Steelers playing someone like Kelvin Beachum at center instead of the injured Maurkice Pouncey.
Another big problem that derives from the weak offensive line is the running game. The Steelers are used to doing very well on the ground against Cincinnati, and have run for at least 100 yards in all 29 of their victories against Cincinnati since 1993. However, they had only 31 rushing yards against Tennessee, and there’s not much change from last week to make it seem like they’re going to do a lot better.
The Bengals held an 11-point lead in the third quarter of last week against the Bears before turning the ball over three times and committing three penalties, including a crucial personal foul by Rey Maualuga that allowed Chicago to eat up the clock.
However, there’s plenty of talent on both sides of the ball, and maybe more importantly don’t have any injury issues to be concerned with. The offense did very well against the Bears, as it wasn’t really stopped by that defense except for the turnovers. However, their running game could have looked better (63 yards).
What’s changed for the Bengals this season so far is a better rush-defense, holding the Bears to only 2.9 yards per carry. The Steelers don’t have anyone too threatening in the backfield at the moment, but knowing they can be stopped is good for the Bengals’ peace of mind.
Prediction – The Steelers aren’t rated as one of the weakest teams in the NFL because their defense is still solid and they have a great quarterback. However, with the kind of problems they have on their offensive line, it’s hard seeing them competing with good teams anytime soon, and the Bengals are a good one when they don’t turn the ball over, which should be fixed in their second game of the season.