The Baltimore Ravens have increased their lead in the AFC North division to two games over the Bengals, which makes this game against the Steelers a crucial one for Cincinnati. Pittsburgh is not out of the running for the division just yet, but a loss would drop them to 2-4, and possibly four games back of the Ravens.
The 3-3 record of the Bengals is very deceiving of how they have actually played this year. Their 3-1 start featured wins over the Browns, Redskins, and Jaguars. Those three teams have a combined record of 5-12 on the year. They have also lost their last two games against the Dolphins and Browns, who have a combined record of 4-8.
This game is important for the Bengals to win considering they face the Broncos and Giants following their bye week next week. They were 0-2 against Pittsburgh last season but still found a way to make the playoffs.
The Bengals do have the seventh best overall offense in the league, but the Steelers feature the third best defense. This has been accomplished without Troy Polamalu and James Harrison being there for every game. It shows how strong the Pittsburgh defense is, which is one that allows just under 296 yards a game.
Last week’s loss to the Browns was due to the offense turning over the ball four times, which included three Andy Dalton interceptions. If they want to have any chance of taking down Pittsburgh, turnovers are not an option.
Pittsburgh dropped a tough game to the Titans last Thursday night. It put them at 2-3, and has had many thinking that their season is all but over. A win Sunday night would get them back to .500, which is a safe spot in the weak AFC. With only two teams currently having more than three wins, the AFC’s wild card spots are wide open.
The issue for the Steelers this season has been closing out close games. In their loss against Oakland in Week 3, they were outscored 13-0 in the fourth quarter and lost by three points. Last Thursday against Tennessee, they missed a last-minute field goal that would have given them the lead.
With the defense keeping the offense in the games, it falls on the offense to get leads early instead of always having to make a comeback. Ben Roethlisberger has helped lead the seventh overall pass offense in the league, but the rushing has been lacking all season. Pittsburgh owns the second-worst rush offense in the league. They only have two rushing touchdowns on the year, which must change if they are going to compete for a playoff spot.
The Steelers are still the better team in this game, no matter what the records may indicate. They will win this game and get to 3-3, back into playoff contention.
Steelers 21 | Bengals 17
Pittsburgh Steelers at Cincinnati Bengals
- Bengals-Steelers Date: Sunday, October 21, 2012
- Bengals-Steelers Kickoff Time: 8:20 PM (Eastern)
- Bengals-Steelers TV Network: NBC