Pittsburgh Steelers vs Cincinnati Bengals
Saturday – January 9 – 7:15 PM CT
Paul Brown Stadium – Cincinnati, Ohio
Records Before the Game
Pittsburgh Steelers (10-6, 4-4 away)
Cincinnati Bengals (12-4, 6-2 Home)
How did these teams get here?
The Bengals started out hot going 8-0 before eventually finishing 12-4 after loosing QB Andy Dalton to a broken thumb late in the season. Backup QB AJ McCarron stepped in and played solidly to help capture the AFC North. The Steelers backed into the playoffs after a playing lights out offense led by Ben Rothlisberger before losing to the lowly Ravens in week 16 in a must win game. Fortunately for the Steelers Rex Ryan’s Bills came through by knocking the Jets out of the playoffs after the Steelers finished off the Browns thus capturing the last Wild Card spot.
This was suppose to be the year Andy Dalton would finally stop the playoff win drought after four years in a row of one and done playoffs. Unfortunately he is just getting his cast off his thumb this week and is highly unlikely to play against the Steelers. AJ McCarron has stepped in and is getting a reputation for being a solid quarterback and not just the husband of super hot Katherine Webb, just ask Brent Musberger. McCarron has thrown six touchdowns and two interceptions in the games he played and is not afraid to throw it downfield to All-Pro A.J. Green. The Bengals defense has improved to become one of the best in the league with a stout run defense and a good pass rush led by Geno Atkins and Carlos Dunlap who have combined for 24.5 sacks. The secondary of Dre Kirkpatrick and Leon Hall has performed consistently throughout the season.
The Steelers season looked all but over before it started when perhaps the best running back in the league LeVeon Bell went out with a torn MCL. Back up DeAngelo Williams stepped in and has performed admirably only to be injured in the season finale against the Browns and is questionable for Saturday’s game. The real story of the Steelers has been the reemergence of Ben Roethlisberger as an elite QB. Pittsburgh is top 5 in almost every offense category and all world receiver Antonio Brown has been playing like the best receiver in the NFL. Unfortunately for the Steelers their defense has woefully underperformed this season and is not the Steel Curtain of old.
The two teams split the regular season and this has turned into a bitter rivalry. In the last two games each team had over 40 penalties and over 300 yards of penalties and the games became really chippy. These teams DO NOT like each other and it should show on Saturday. AJ McCarron looks as though he could lead the Bengals to their first playoff win in years against a porous Steelers defense. In the end even without DeAngelo Williams the high flying Steelers and their all pro QB Ben Rothlisberger should pull this one out.