It’s the second meeting of the season between two longtime division rivals. Can the Cincinnati Bengals complete a sweep of the Steelers?
It’s been a season where the four defending division champions have taken it on the chin on too many occasions. But for a club that hasn’t been to the playoffs or enjoyed a winning season since 2015, it’s a year that has shown great promise.
The Cincinnati Bengals have won six of their first 10 games. That’s quite a turnaround from the previous two seasons under first-time NFL head coach Zac Taylor. The franchise was a combined 6-25-1 during his first two years on the job. But good drafting and some solid free-agent additions have put this team in the mix for a division title.
One of those half-dozen victories was an important 24-10 win at Heinz Field in Week 3. Don’t be fooled by the fact that the Pittsburgh Steelers outgained their guests in total yards (342-268) and won the time of possession battle (35:22). The reigning AFC North champions ran 77 offensive plays to the Bengals’ 42.
But Cincinnati won the battle in the trenches on both sides of the ball. Quarterback Joe Burrow hit on 14-of-18 passes for 172 yards and three scores (1 interception) – two to rookie Ja’Marr Chase and the other to Tyler Boyd. The second-year signal-caller was not sacked and running back Joe Mixon added 90 yards rushing on 18 carries.
As for Ben Roethlisberger and the Pittsburgh offense, the ground game was virtually non-existent to the tune of 45 yards on 15 carries. The veteran quarterback finished with 318 yards through the air via 38 completions on 58 attempts. He was sacked four times via a pass rush led by 2021 free-agent find Trey Hendrickson (Saints). And unsung linebacker Logan Wilson finished with 14 tackles and a pair of interceptions in the 14-point win.
But despite winning the last two meetings in this series, the Bengals are just 5-19 in this rivalry dating back to 2010. And that includes an embarrassing playoff loss at home in 2015. But a sweep of the Black and Gold – which Cincinnati hasn’t managed since 2009 – would go a long way towards getting this franchise back on the postseason track.