If they are going to make the postseason, they’ll have to survive a 4th quarter gauntlet of a schedule none of the other teams fighting for the last two spots have to face.
This Sunday they face the AFC North leading and #1 seed in the Conference, Cincinnati Bengals. The Bengals, who have been much maligned over the past four seasons for not winning “big games”, want to make a huge splash by sweeping the Steelers—something they haven’t done since 2009—and dashing their playoffs hopes, while clinching the Division.
The Steelers aren’t done with a loss, but right now they’re not in total control of their postseason destiny. But, if they lose Sunday, it will be farther out of their hands.
In their November 1st meeting, Pittsburgh showed they have the ingredients to cook up a recipe to defeat Cincinnati. The shaky D forced Andy Dalton into 2 interceptions, one in the red zone. The offense outgained Cincy’s O 356 to 296, 116 on the ground between Le’Veon Bell and DeAngelo Williams. They also gained more first downs, 21-16, and won the time of possession battle.
But, the Steelers turned the ball over 3 times, all interceptions by Ben Roethlisberger, who was coming off of missing four weeks with a knee injury. He was rusty(28/45, 262 yds, 1 TD, sacked 3 times), and the Steelers still managed to have a 10-6 lead in the 4th quarter before losing 16-10.
If they protect the ball, the Steelers will pull off the upset and solidify their playoff hopes. They’re 2.5 point underdogs at the Bengals. The over under is 49.5 points. I’ll take the over, there’s no way these teams will combine for 26 points again. I predict the Steelers will be victorious, 33-27. Kickoff is set for 1 p.m. at Paul Brown Stadium.